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1839— 1844 




Paternoster Square 


[Auu Rights Reserved] 

tiy (rtxjStXy^ .-Zouvi-^L.^ 



17 1 8th line — for, were scarcely — read, was scarcely. 

26 20th line — for, Horrogate — read, Harrogate. 

43 5th line — for, the first volumn — read, volume. 

56 loth line — ^for, Molonglo Pains — read, Plains. 

60 13th line — for, pillar — read, pillow. 

60 2oth and 25th line — for, ca-su-a-ring — read, casuarinoe 

66 26th line — for, until arrived on — read, we arrived. 

79 ist line — for, until arrived — read, we arrived. 

85 24th line — for, defficiency — read, deficiency. 

120 9th line — for, to the several — read, to their several. 

135 nth line — for, let be remhered — read, let it be remembered. 

140 2oth line — for, women — read, woman. 

145 8th line — for, arose (in italics) — read, arose. 

150 5th line — for, one cannot keep — read, cannot help. 

150 30th line — for, expressed a wish — read, expresses. 

234 24th line — for, dug — read, dung. 

269 1 6th line — for, there conversation — read, their. 

284 2 1 St line — for, where in the same — read, were. 

296 14th line — for, the regulation slit — read, with the. 

319 12th line — for, where bound — read, were. 

326 15th line — for, were protected — read, were well protected. 

352 23rd line — for, one his followers — read, one of his. 

360 9th line — for, consentraied — read, concentrated. 


IHE Author of this book of Adventures has seen at differ- 
ent times, in various periodicals, from the penny weekly 
to the half-crown monthly, sketches of life and adven- 
tures in Australia, but evidently fictitious narratives, overlying 
a substratum of fact. 

But the writer of this narrative wishes the reader to clearly 
understand that there is nothing fictitious in this book. From 
one end of it to the other, commencing with the voyage out, to 
the end of the last chapter, every statement of fact or adven- 
ture, are statements literally true. But that cannot be said of 
the names of persons mentioned, as many of them are 
purposely fictitious. 

And should this work ever appear in print, notwithstand- 
ing the length of time that has elapsed since the actual 
occurrence of the events related, the writer has little doubt 
there will be some few persons to be met with in the colonies 
over which he travelled who will remember him, and remember 
some of the incidents mentioned. The author's object has 
been to give a plain statement of facts, without any preten- 
tions to " fine writing " He is not an author by profession, 
and makes no claim to literary merit. 

At the time when these events and incidents happened 
there was nothing extraordinary or unusual in them. They 
were events and experiences similar to what hundreds experi- 
enced in those days, and thought nothing more about them, 
no more than did the writer of these adventures at the time. 


But this narrative would never have been seen in its 
present form, or in any form, had it not been that the writer 
having always been fond of journaHzing, on his return to 
England, and a quiet home, and having no particular employ- 
ment, thought he would write out a diary of his adventures, 
and at the time, all the incidents were vividly retained in his 
memory, and many of them were entered into that old diary, 
but not all. And to aid his memory, he had scraps of memo- 
randa still in his possession, those made in the Southern colony 
being left in Sydney, when undertaking the journey to Moreton 
Bay ; and he has had help also from old letters sent to England, 
and published in a local newspaper. 

That diary was finished in May, 1846, and filled 208 
pages, quarto size, nearly two-thirds of the pages averaging 
300 words to the page. It was then laid aside, looked at 
occasionally, but never again read by the writer until 50 years 
after sailing to Australia. 

Other emigrants he knew, kept diaries of their travels, but 
most of them settled down to business. Few travelled to the 
extent the writer did, and of those diaries which were made, 
very few will be in existence now, 50 years after the events 
related in them. 

Fifty years having passed away since the writer landed on 
the shores of Australia, he decided on re-writing the old diary, 
not doubting but that it would interest many people, and to 
the present generation of colonists be an entertaining record of 
the past history of the colonies of Eastern Australia. 

Had it not been for the preservation of the old diary, this 
book could never have been written, so many of the incidents 
having been forgotten. But during the writing of it, the old 
diary had to be carefully read, and then many old memories, 
not entered in its pages, came again into existence, and they 
have been incorporated with the present narrative. 


The most complete journal of events in the old diary, was 
that relating to the voyage home, owing to the writer having 
made a careful entry in a book, of the many incidents, as they 

The author gratefully acknowledges the valuable help, so 
freely given by the Agents- General of the two colonies of 
Victoria and Queensland, holding office in 1889 and 1890, with 
regard to the present state of those colonies, and he feels sure 
he would have received similar help from the Agent -General of 
New South Wales had he asked for it, but it was not required. 







The England of 1839 described-— Australia in 1839, popularly 

known as Botany Bay, and Botany Bay only Page 1 



In a Sailing Ship — Bound by the Cape of Good Hope — Time 

occupied being over five months Page 17 


The Police Courts — Sam Terry, the Rich Emancipist ... Page 35 


Queanbeyan — Limestone Plains — Molonglo and Maneroo des- 

C£lDwU ••• ••• •••• ••• ••• ••• ••• ••■ SzQiSQ ^4 



Crossing the Murrumbidgee and Murray Rivers, and make a 
temporary camp on the Yackondandah — Thence to Mel- 
ooume «•. ... ... .«. .•« ••• ••. ••. Jr age o«7 





Return to Sydney by sailing ship — Leave Sydney for the Port 
Phillip district — End the Journey at the Broken river, 
South of the Murray Page 83 



Form a Cattle Station there — The Country and our Work 

described — Leave for Melbourne Page 102 



No change in Melbourne — Black Natives, Prisoners awaiting 
their Trial for alleged offences — Remarks about the 
Natives — Leave Melbourne in a steamer for Sydney ... Page 130 




By steamer to Newcastle — Thence to Port Stephens — Change 
the Route to New England, by Liverpool Plains — Arrested 
as a Bushranger — Stay some months in New England Page 154 



Hardships suffered on the journey — Arrive at Brisbane, the 
chief town of the Moreton Bay district — Brisbane Town, 
in 1843, described — Leave for the Interior — Have an attack 
of Intermittent Fever — Return to Brisbane Town for 
Medical Aid — Again in the Interior Page 194 



QUEENSLAND IN 1843 & 1844. 

The Interior and our Work there described — Meet with 
Booralsha, the runaway convict — Remarks about the 
Black Natives and the Missionaries — Leave for Sydney by 
Steamer ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... Page 21& 



Sail from Sydney in a two-masted Brig, 121 Tons burden — 
Stormy weather — Dismasted off Cape Horn, South 
Americdi — Privations undergone — Put into a Port in Chili 
for Repairs Page 26^ 



Concepcion Bay and Talcahuano described — About the 
Chilians we came in contact with — Repairs completed — 
Sail for England, Arriving there February 26th, 1846 — 
The voyage having occupied for its completion, 8 months 
and 8 days ... Page 288 


We part Company, I and my old Companions, for the last 
time — With the exception of two Persons, never see any 
of them again — Concluding Remarks Page 32$ 

Appendix ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... Page 329* 











The great Snowstorm of 1836 

Christmas Pastimes 50 years ago 

Riding the Stang 

Stealing the Goose from the " Common '* and the 
... " Common " from the Goose ... 

Transportation to Botany Bay 
The Dances of the Natives 
The Yackond^ndah 
The Murder, Trial, and the Ghost 
Arrested as a Bushranger 





. Scotsmen and the Rev. Sydney Smith 

Names of Places . 
New Zealand Missionaries 
. Civilized and Savage Sports contrasted 

. Mr. Froude and the Missionary at Samoa 
. The legal rights of Mothers and Children 




The early Religious Establishments of the Colony 219 





To give illustrations which should be, not mere fancy 
sketches, but truthful representations of Australian scenery and 
the Natives, as existing at the time occupied hy these adven- 
tures, has been the wish of the writer ; and to do so, he has 
availed himself of some of the most appropriate to be found 
in — " Three Expeditions into the Interior of Australia," by 
Major Sir Thomas L. Mitchell, late Surveyor General, of 
New South Wales ; expeditions undertaken by him during 
the years 1831-1832, and 1835-1836. There are none more 
truthful. And equally truthful are the illustrations given, 
derived from other sources. 

The illustrations copied from Major Sir Thomas Mitchell's 
" Three Expeditions into the Interior," are distinguished by 
an Asterisk — * 





View of Sydney, 1890. — Frontispiece 

Cape of Good Hope 

* A Native Corroboree 

The Upper Goulburn 

In the Mountain Ranges — After stray Cattle 

* Female and Child — Australia Felix 

* Native Burying Ground — At Milmeridien 








8 ... ... The Pie of Tangulda ... ... 184 

''g A Bushman and his Cockatoo friend and Com- 
panion ... ... ... ... ... ... 201 

10 ... * Two Natives of the Bogan ... 213 

Portraits of two N atives — an old and a young man 
.at the same fire, showing the submissive manner 
of the latter ... ... ... ... ... — 

'II * Major Sir Thomas Mitchell's first meeting with 

the Chief of the Bogan ... ... ... ... 251 

This illustration is given here owing to its truthful 
representation of Australian Scenery, and also of the 
natives, as they ordinarily appeared 50 or 60 years ago, 
when met with in the bush, before white men civilized 
them, and stripped them of their customary clothing 
(when they had any), and generously supplied them with 
cheap blankets. 

The following is the Major's description of this Meeting : 
" At length a man of mild but pensive countenance, 
fine athletic form, and apparently about fifty years of 
age, came forth, leading a very fine boy, so dressed 
with green boughs, that only his head and legs remained 
uncovered, a few emu-feathers being mixed with the 
wild locks of his hair. I received him in this appropriate 
costume, as a personification of the green bough, or 
emblem of peace." 


One large feather decked the brow of the chief; his 
nose and brow having a tinge of yellow ochre. Having 
presented the boy to me, he next advanced with much 
formality, towards the camp, having " Tackijally " on 
his right, the boy walking between, and rather in 
advance of both, each having a hand on his shoulder, 
&c." (Vol. ist. Page 192), 


When the natives carried a green bough in their hand, it 
was always emblematical of a peaceful intention, and 
white men followed the same rule when interviewing 
the natives. 

This illustration also shows the manner in which the 
natives wiere accustomed to scarify their bodies. 
One native carries in his hand a smouldering fire-stick 
which was their invariable custom. 

The Bogan river has its origin in the interior. West of 
the Liverpool Range, and joins the river Darling near 
Fort Bourke. 


^12 Coast scenery of Queensland, near Rockhampton 258 

^13 Blue mountain scenery — The valle}^ of the Grose — 
Which latter joins the Hawkesbury near Rich- 
mond ... ... ... ... ... ... 263 

«>i4 ... Dismasted off Cape Horn — South America 282 


J15 ... Talcahuano — Chili — South America ... 292 
-•Map — Showing the Route travelled in the Colonies. 



FIFTY YEARS AGO (1839 1 844). 


The England of 1839 described — Australia in 1839, popularly known as 

Botany Bay, and Botany Bay only. 

' T being a common practice with many readers of books to 
omit reading the Preface to them, the writer of these 
adventures particularly requests that the Preface to this 
book be read at the very commencement, and before reading 
any other part, because it furnishes a key to the narrative, 
supplying, as it does, information to the reader explanatory of 
the character of its contents. 

From the year 1839, when the writer landed in Australia, 
to 1889, embraces a period of fifty years. 

In 1839, Australia was attracting some notice as a 
Colonial Emigration Field, but at that time very little was 
known by the general public of that vast country. The settled 
parts were a mere fraction of it. Western Australia was 
known only as a gigantic failure as a colonial settlement. 
South Australia, as a colony, was only some three or four years 
old. The Southern part, now known as the colony of Victoria, 
was in its infant stage, the first settlement having been made 
there in 1835. 

Queensland was unknown except as the penal settlement 
of Moreton Bay. The oldest settlement was the colony of 
New South Wales, having been occupied as far back as 1788, 


but for many years as a penal settlement only. New South 
Wales was therefore, the mother colony, and most advanced, 
colonially speaking, of all, and had not been open to free 
emigration more than ten years, if as much, and the inflow 
of emigrants had been on a very small scale. 

When I was a schoolboy, Australia, by that name was 
unknown. Australia, that was to be, was known then as 
Botany Bay, and Botany Bay only, which to my youthful 
imagination was a dreadful country, far, far away, to which 
criminals were sent, and seldom, or never seen or heard of 
again. The Assize trials of that time made Botany Bay 
familiar to all readers of what few newspapers there were. We 
used to read of criminals being transported beyond the seas for 
seven, ten, or more years, or for the term of their natural lives ; 
and many a poor wretch was sent to Botany Bay innocent of 
any crime, or, if guilty, would now be considered sufficiently 
punished with two or three months' imprisonment. 

Walter Besant, in his " Fifty Years Ago," says, " law had 
a different meaning fifty years ago ; equity hardly had any 
meaning at all ; justice had an ugly sound." 

So that Australia was Botany Bay, and nothing more. 

The wildest dreamer never imagined that the country of 
T^hich Botany Bay formed an insignificant fraction, was 
destined to become a most important colony, not of convicts, 
but of a free people, and fifty years after I landed in Sydney, one 
of the most prosperous and progressive countries known. 

But the contrast between Australia at the present time 
and in the past, is not greater than that between the England 
of 1839 and 1889. There were then very few railways. Lines 
were being made between the great centres of population, but 
the only passenger line completed was that between Manchester 
and Liverpool. The journey from London to any part of the 
north, was by four-horse coaches, and the goods traffic by 
stage wagons or canal. I remember travelling from D in 


SP-!=^ r^r- 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. — 1 839 TO 1 844. 3 

South Yorkshire to London, 162 miles, on the outside of one of 
these coaches in the winter of 1836 and 1837, after one of the 
heaviest snowstorms ever remembered, and so deep were the 
snow-drifts, that we were a day-and-a-half and two nights on 
the road, and how many hours beyond the usual time .1 do not 
remember. In the early morning of the third day from 
the commencement of the journey we drove into the yard of 
the ** Swan with Two Necks," Lad Lane, London. I never 
remember suffering so much from cold as I did on that journey, 
I ought to have had rheumatism ever after, to the end of my 
days, but I never had that affliction. — See Appendix A . 

In my early youth, as I could not decide what I would 
like to be, and my father being a farmer, I had to work on the 
farm, but the work was not to my liking, and how to escape 
from it, I did not know, or see my way. 1 had two brothers 
and two sisters ; both my brothers took steadily to the work of 
the farm, but I had inherited tastes and inclinations quite 
different from theirs, and the strongest of my inclinations was 
to travel and see the world, and that feeling was fostered and 
encouraged by reading books on voyages and travels belonging 
to other boys when at school, for my father bought us np 
books, neither did he allow us any indulgence as most parents accustomed to do. I know no character so descriptive 
of his, as that of the Scotch nobleman, the guardian uncle of 
** Lothair^" in Disraeli's novel : " A keen, hard man, honour- 
able and just, but with no softness of heart or manner ; " and 
unfortunately, we had no mother living, to soften by her in- 
fluence his asperities. 

Knowledge, in those days, was very limited, especially in 
remote country villages, and neither he nor I had anyone 
qualified by learning and experience to advise on my peculiar 
tastes ; and with my then inexperience of life outside the 
village in which I lived, and seeing no other way to escape 
from the drudgery of farm work, and his austere rule, I en- 


listed into a cavalry regiment, where I remained nearly two 
years, eventually purchasing my discharge about six months 
after my father's death ; and it was whilst in the regiment, 
and returning from furlough, that I made the coach journey 
mentioned previously. 

As I have said, I purchased my discharge about six 
months after my father's death ; not that I did not like my 
new mode of life, for compared with work on a farm, the life 
I now led was an easy and pleasant one, and I had more 
liberty and more pocket money, for my father now made me 
a liberal allowance, the first allowance he had ever made to me. 

Nothing happened during my short military experience 
which at that time I should have considered worthy of notice, 
but now that more than fifty years have passed over, I can 
call to mind incidents which at the present day may be of 

I was stationed with the regiment about a year, at Houn- 
slow Barracks, near London, and our exercising ground was 
Hounslow Heath, or what was left of it, notorious about fifty 
years before that, for highwaymen, and highway robberies. 

King William the Fourth was then the reigning monarch 
and our chief occupation was to escort him, and Queen 
Adelaide sometimes, on their journey from London to Windsor, 
or vice-versa, for that was about the extent of their journeys ; 
monarchs did not travel over their several countries then, as 
they do now. 

Hounslow and Staines lying in a direct line between 
Kensitigton and Windsor, this escort duty for our regiment 
should have been from Hounslow to Kensington, or from 
Hounslow to Staines, but the duty was made harder and longer 
owing to the king's determination never to travel through 
Hounslow again. The Hounslow people had offered him 
indignities he could not forget. 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. 1 839 TO 1 844. 5 

During the many reform riots, of 1831 and 1832, a public- 
house sign in Hounslow, having painted on it a representation 
of the king and queen, was turned upside down, and other 
insults showered down on their majesties. The consequence 
was, when the king travelled from London to Windsor, he 
went by Richmond Bridge, missing Hounslow altogether, and 
our escort duty commenced at Richmond Bridge, going on to 
Staines or Kensington. We had about six miles to ride to 
Richmond Bridge across country, through tortuous lanes, 
bordered by old-fashioned high hedges, which in the summer 
time would be covered with a profusion of wild roses, clematis, 
and honeysuckle, and our rides were generally in the evening, 
which at that time of the year, made them very pleasant ; 
afterwards to do the escort to Staines or Kensington, at a 
good swinging trot, a distance of seven or eight miles, returning 
to Hounslow about midnight. 

Our regiment was removed to Windsor barracks, where it 
remained a week, during which time we were reviewed in 
Windsor Great Park, in the presence of the king and queen, 
a troop of the Life Guards keeping the ground, the remainder 
of the Life Guards occupying our barracks at Hounslow. 
Those were the only two occasions when I came into cantact 
with royalty. But in those days, to have seen the king was 
something wonderful to talk about. As a matter of course, I 
was never invited to dine with royalty, but before I left 
England, I had the honour of dining with the celebrated 
George Stephenson, the father of the English railway system, 
and another well-known person, Peter Robinson, of Oxford 
Street, London, was a school-fellow of mine, but only for a 
few weeks, as he left the school soon after I entered it. 

It may also interest military men to know something about 
the internal economy of a regiment in those days. No reason- 
able complaint could be made respecting the duties required 
of the men in this regiment. There was no really hard or 
harassing work, but the recreation rooms, reading rooms, and 


lending libraries, so common now, were unknown then. Now, 
every soldier must attend the regimental school, until proficient 
in his education, up to a certain point. Fifty years ago, or 
more, there was a school for the children of married soldiers, 
and that was all. 

When a man's duties for the day were over, he had only 
two places in which he could recreate ; the barrack canteen or 
some public-house outside. Soldiers of those days were all 
supposed to be of the same religious persuasion, and that was, 
that of the established Church of England, and a clergyman of 
that Church officiated once every Sunday in the Riding School 
of these barracks, a temporary pulpit for his use being always 
to be seen in one corner of the Riding School. He was an old 
man, and a bad speaker. The service was very short, and the 
sermon not over long, the men standing all the time. Who 
this reverend gentleman was, or from whence he came, no one 
seemed to know. Except on Sundays, he was never to be 
seen or heard of. But this was nothing extraordinary in those 
days, for the Church then, was but a husk without a kernel, 
and its fabrics, particularly in country villages, going to ruin. 

Very different is the religious provision made for soldiers 
now ; paid chaplains being appointed in garrison towns to 
minister to the religious wants of the men of the four principal 
religious denominations ; and some of these chaplains are good 
men, making themselves familiar with the men, and taking an 
interest in their affairs. 

Flogging was a form of punishment common enough in 
those days, in both army and navy, for breaches of military 
discipline, and of one infliction of this kind, I was an eye 

Attached to the band of this regiment, were two boys, 
both having been trained and educated at the Duke of York's 
school in , Dublin. Flogging was by no means a common 
occurrence in this regiment, but the elder of these boys, having 
been guilty of a gross breach of military discipline, was tried 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. 1 839 TO 1844. 7 

by court martial and sentenced to receive fifty lashes, and then 
to be dismissed the service. 

The punishment awarded to this boy was much too severe^ 
for he was only a boy in years, and his general character was 
good. But these were the " good old times," which some 
people love to recall with fond regret. 

On the day appointed for his punishment, the whole 
regiment was marched into the Riding School to hear the read- 
ing of the proceedings of the court martial, and to witness the 

The town of Hounslow would be about two miles distant^ 
but the news of the forthcoming flogging soon spread amongst 
the inhabitants, and on the day appointed, a number of women 
(not the select of Hounslow), but those whose characters might 
be said to be of various types — good, bad, and indifferent^ 
besieged the barracks, and would have forced an entrance, in 
spite of the guard, had not the gates been closed. 

After the sentence of the court martial had been carried 
out, the boy was removed to the hospital until cured of his 
wounds, and then, at a general parade of the regiment, he was 
dismissed the service, and marched out through the barrack 
gates. And here again, some twenty or thirty of those ** bad " 
women were ready to receive him, and conduct him into the 
town. What became of him afterwards, I never knew ; but I 
heard this much, that they provided him with clothes, money> 
and other necessaries, and found him employment somewhere. 

I was young then, but I must say, that the conduct of 
these kind-hearted "bad women " made a great impression upon 
me. I found I was only just beginning to acquire a knowledge 
of the world and its ways ; just beginning to learn something of 
the religious side of human nature ; that goodness of heart did 
not always run on the same lines with religious professions. 

Until I joined this regiment, nearly all my young life had 
been spent cooped up in a secluded country village, where 


little was to be learned, and that little not of much worth. To 
go to church once on a Sunday, and during the remainder of 
the week to settle down to hard work and making money ; that 
was the notion then prevailing, of ** the whole duty of man." 

But these women had taught me a lesson. Though know- 
ing little or nothing of those Christian dogmas, over which 
controversialists wrangle, they showed in their conduct to this 
unfortunate boy, a kindly sympathy and a true Christian 
charity. The conventional piety of Hounslow did nothing for 
this boy that I heard of ; and yet the good people, who without 
doubt, were to be found there, were not wholly to blame, but 
the customs of society. For in those days, no respectable 
woman could be seen in company with a soldier without losing 
caste, and being guilty of an outrage on social propriety, and 
for which society had no forgiveness. 

Neither did our spiritual pastor and master, to anyone's 
knowledge, ever visit him, in order to give him that kindly 
advice and consolation he so much needed. The only help 
that he received was from these social outcasts. 

I learned a lesson then, which roused into activity 
sympathies the existence of which I was not aware of ; a lesson 
that has helped to influence my modes of thought and con- 
victions ever since. 

It would have been no hardship for me to remain with the 
regiment. By its means, I had been enabled to see London, an 
event, few living far away could boast of ; but I wanted to 
see more of the world, and ended by going to Australia. 

Many have been the changes and upheavals in both politics 
and religion since 1839. Neither the politics nor the religion 
of the nation are the same now as then. I remember a lecturer 
about that time, venturing to cast doubts on the literal inter- 
pretation of the first and second chapters of Genesis, based 
upon geology, but his views were so opposed to those of his 
audience, that he was promptly ** put down," by some members 

FIFTY YEARS AGO 1 839 TO 1 844. 9 

present, and in which ** putting down " a well-known M.P. 
took a prominent part. Every orthodox sect, small and large, 
excommunicated with "bell book andcandle," metaphorically 
speaking, all geological conclusions, and consigned the 
geological professors, and all who had the audacity to believe 
in them, to eternal perdition in the world to come. But now, 
the theologians have changed their views, and are not only 
bold enough to declare from the pulpit, that the Bible was 
never intended to teach science, but have honoured the mortal 
remains of Charles Darwin, their great scientific opponent, 
with a public funeral in Westminster Abbey. 

Tom Paine, the man whom the orthodox sects delighted 
in stigmatizing as an infidel, had for many years been the 
theological ** bogey," was now getting out of date, and other 
heretics taking his place ; and yet Tom Paine was not the 
atheist he was represented to be, no more than is the Unitarian 
of the present day ; for his creed, according to his own show- 
ing, was : " I believe in one God, and one only ; the world is 
my country, and to do good is my religion." And if we are to 
believe Mr. Moncure Conway, in his recent Life of Thomas Paine, 
it was this notorious infidel, who first recognised and insisted 
upon the rights of animals to merciful consideration ; who 
advocated the cause of the helpless and defenceless, which from 
all we know, is more than his orthodox revilers ever did, in 
the pulpit or outside of it. 

Amongst the new heresies, was : " Combe's Constitution 
of Man, in relation to external objects ;" a book which excited 
the animosity of theologians to an extraordinary degree. It 
was a book explanatory of man's relationship to natural law, 
and throwing a light upon some of the mysteries of life, and 
to-day would be considered a very mild form of heresy, if a 
heresy at all. 

When I was in Liverpool, waiting for the sailing of the 
ship which was to carry me to Australia, I went one day into 


a little barber's shop near the Docks, in order to get my hair 
cut ; whilst that process was going on, the barber, quite a 
young man, was full of talk, and finding that I was about to 
sail for Australia, strongly recommended me to take with me 
" Coombe's Constitution of Man." He said, "You have a 
good head," those were his words, ** and I am sure you will 
like it." 

Phrenology was a science just coming to the fore at that 
time, and he evidently had, like many more, studied it, and 
during the hair-cutting process had been phrenologically 
studying my head. But however flattering his remarks might 
be, I found in the course of my travels, that others had a 
different opinion of my head. {See Page 173). I did, on his 
recommendation, buy the book, and took it with me, and 
found it to be an extraordinary work. To me, it was a new 
revelation. But I must leave the theological aspect of 1839, 
and go on to something else. 

In nothing have the changes been greater than in the 
sports and pastimes which used to be so common at Christmas 
in my early youth. Then the country villages, much more 
than the towns, used to be invaded by troops of ** mummers " 
and ** morris-dancers," most gaily dressed and ornamented with 
a profusion of ribbons of various colours. The leading 
characters amongst the mummers used to perform a play, 
generally, if there was no snow on the ground, in the open 
yards attached to farmhouses, otherwise, in the large kitchen. 
What the play was, I don't remember, but St. George, the 
English patron saint, was a prominent character in it. There 
was much declamatory speaking between the two principal 
performers, much flourishing of swords, ending in a fight, St. 
George, as a matter of course being the victor. There was 
also amongst the performers a ** fool," to amuse with his rough 
jokes the assembled company. Another performance which 
was very common, was the play of the ** old horse." But that 
play always took place at night, in the farmer's kitchen, and 
was in many respects a gruesome performance. The ** old 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. 1839 TO 1844. 11 

horse " being a hideous looking object, and when well handled, 
causing much screaming, laughter, and merriment. And during 
the performance, the men who accompanied the " old horse '* 
sang a doggerel song, having reference to his merits, and the 
" wonders " the horse had done, each verse ending with : 
** Poor old horse he must die." But the climax of the play 
was when the ** old horse '' had to be shod. The rough horse- 
play attending this part of the performance invariably ** brought 
down the house." — See Appendix B, 

There was also the ** old tup," but that was a mild affair 
compared with the ** old horse," and was generally undertaken 
by boys, and his performances were also accompanied by a 

I believe these exhibitions were only to be seen in the 
northern counties of England, and my father was a liberal 
patron of all of them, and seldom refused the request of the 
men to play. 

Now, all these exhibitions of fun and foolery, are com- 
pletely gone. Not a vestige of them remains ; and it is only a 
few old people who have any recollection of them. At the 
present time the public taste does not favour such frivolities ;. 
money making is the game now. 

But there was another performance, or institution it might 
be called, which merits a notice, and which, like the play of 
the ** old horse," was not uncommon in country villages, fifty 
or sixty years ago, and was called " riding the stang ; " a species 
of rough-and-ready justice, a sort of lynch law, dealt out by the 
villagers to any brutal ruffian who had made himself notorious 
by the illtreatment of his wife. It was an institution to redress 
a wrong which a Christian legislature could never find time to 
do, it being too much occupied on laws for the preservation of 
game, and its own individual interests, to trouble itself about 
such trifles as wife-beating. If the law granted any redress to 


a wife in such cases, it was not of much value ; there was too 
much circumlocution, red tape, pen, ink and paper, and money 
cost involved in gaining redress, for a poor woman to benefit 
by. There were no divorce courts then, except for the luxurious 
rich ; no judicial separations, which might not inappropriately 
be called, judicious separations. 

No matter, these country fellows swept away all these 
artificial obstructions as they would a cob-web, and dealt out 
justice and redress for injuries of the kind in their own way by, 
** riding the stang." — See Appendix C, 

In 1839, black slavery in the colonies had been abolished 
only six years, but there was a slavery in existence at home at 
that date, in factories and coal mines, quite as bad. To give 
only one instance : young girls and boys, six and seven years 
old, were compelled to work half-naked in coal-mines, and 
flogged if they refused to work. 

According to William Hopton in ** Mining Life and Work,'* 
and himself a miner : ** The nature of the employment in which 
these children were engaged was calculated to brutalize them 
in every sense. They were obliged to crawl along the low 
passages with barely room for their persons in that posture, 
each dragging a load of coal in a cart by means of a chain 
borne round the waist, the chain passing between the legs. 
This" they dragged through a passage, often not so good as a 
common sewer, in an atmosphere almost stifling." 

" At this sort of work, girls were employed as well as boys, 
and they commonly worked quite naked down to the waist, the 
rest of the dress being a pair of loose trousers, and in this con- 
dition they were obliged to serve adult colliers who worked 
without any clothing at all." 

But black slavery had been abolished nine years before 
this form of white slavery was put an end to by legislative 
action. The reason for this delay was — it was too near home. 
For English orthodox Christianity, in practice, has always had 

FIFTY YEARS AGO 1 839 TO 1 844. 1 3 

a keener perception of heathenism existing some thousands of 
miles away, than of that at their own doors, and more especially 
when the heathen were black. 

Belief in witchcraft and ghosts was very common in those 
days, more especially in country places. But the superior 
enlightenment of 50 years ago had already begun to teach the 
youth of the time, that belief in such things was the result of 
ignorance and superstition ; whilst now, in the 90's we are 
drifting backwards into the old belief in ghosts and many other 
mysterious things not dreamt of in the old philosophy of 
the 30's. 

I knew one farmer who complained bitterly of his cattle 
and horses being bewitched, and he knew the person who had 
done the mischief, but as the law was, he could not help him- 
self, or he would most certainly have done so, and in the good 
old way. 

I knew also, a Church of England clergyman spend some 
of his leisure time in ** reading down " a ghost. 

But this witchcraft had no maleficent influence on me. I 
was so fortunate as to be safeguarded against that, for I * had 
been ** charmed." As this ** charming process " is now out of 
date, I had better describe it. 

I remember when quite a child in frock and pinafore, being 
sent, one fine summer's day, to a place called Robin Hood's 
well, in a wooded district which went by the name of Barns - 
dale forest, and was a favourite resort of that celebrated outlaw 
— Robin Hood. Residents in South Yorkshire will be familiar 
with the place. 

I and some half-dozen more children like myself, my 
youngest sister being among them, were put in charge of two 
middle-aged women, and sent to the aforesaid Robin Hood's 
well, some five miles distant from our home, not in a genteel 
conveyance like those in customary use at the present day, but 


in one of my father's muck-carts, carefully bedded down with 

I know we enjoyed the trip immensely and the reader will 
no doubt be curious to know, why such an incident should find 
a place in a book of foreign adventure. The reason is this : 
We were sent to be ** charmed " to a reputed ** wise-man " who 
lived at Robin Hood's well. I remember well the appearance 
of this ** wise-man " who performed the ** charming " process. 
He was an old man of the working class, and lived in an 
ordinary working man's cottage : whether he lived alone or not 
I cannot say. I know we were taken, one by one, into his 
august presence to be " charmed." He was seated in a chair, 
and I remember being placed between his knees, and his 
passing his hands a few times dver my face, and muttering some 
unintelligible words, and the '* charming " was done. I believe 
:his pay was twopence a head. Who suggested this visit, I 
cannot say ; I feel sure it was not my father. He was too 
practical a man to take up with such notions. I rather surmise 
the visit was suggested by my old step- mother, who then, and 
during the remainder of her short life, had us in charge, and 
who had won my father's affection by her good housemanage- 
ment. It certainly was not the brilliancy of her intellect that 
suggested it. 

What was the result of this ** charming " process upon me 
is more than I can tell ; but having been ** charmed " I may 
suppose I have lived a ** charmed life " ever since. That, 
perhaps accounts for my surviving the many perils and dangers 
I have passed through, and which are related in this book, and 
many more since the conclusion of these adventures. In other 
respects, my life has been anything but a charmed one. But 
for whatever advantages I may have gained from the mystical 
powers of the ** wise-man " of Robin Hood's well, I am truly 
grateful, and think them cheap at the money. Peace be to his 
memory ! 

There was no penny post fifty years ago, letters used to 
cost from fourpence to one shilling and eightpence, according to 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. — 1 839 TO 1 844. 1 5 

distance. Parcels post, and book post, and many other posta 
conveniences were then unknown. 

Telegraphs and Telephones had never been heard of, and 
the sciences as a whole, were comparatively in their infancy. 

Geology, Photography, and Electrical Science were in 
their most rudimentary stage. 

There were no illustrated newspapers, and very few 
illustrated books or daily newspapers fifty years ago ; the only 
periodicals I remember were the Penny and Saturday Magazines ; 
both illustrated, and highly prized then ; Chambers' Edinburgh 
Journul and the Family Herald. 

There were no lucifer matches in general use. Fires were 
lighted, and pipes also, by the tinder-box and flint and steel, 
unless a light could be begged from a neighbour. 

The first box of lucifer matches I ever saw and purchased 
was, when in Liverpool, waiting for the sailing of the ship 
which was to carry us to Australia. That box of matches cost 
me sixpence, and was a great curiosity, and was taken on board. 

Every man shaved then. Beards and mustaches were 
never seen then, nor for many years after, unless it was a 
soldier of the Household Cavalry, or one of an Hussar regiment ; 
and the young girls of the time professed to have a great horror 
•of such adornments. But they have changed in their views 
since then ; but there is one thing they have not changed, small 
waists. I remember some few years before this time the old 
Penny Magazine containing articles condemnatory of the 
practice of tight lacing, and illustrating its evil effects with 
woodcuts, but the evil goes on to this day just the same. 

But great as are the changes that have taken place during 
the past fifty years, the probability is, that from many causes 
far greater changes will mark the next fifty years ; greater 
.than we of the present day, have any conception of. 


There were no great ocean steamers in 1839. Coasting 
Steamers there were, but not many. 

The Great Western Steamer made the first voyage across 
the Atlantic Ocean in fifteen days, about the middle of the year 

All voyages to the East were made in sailing vessels round 
the Caps of Good Hope, and by that route I made the voyage 
to Australia in 1839. 

In the next chapter, I will describe my sea-faring ex- 
periences on the voyage. 

.?^(i»,«- ^ 



In a Sailing Ship — Round by the Cape of Good Hope — Time occupied 

being over five months. 

r^EFORE commencing the reading of this narrative of 
1^ adventure, the author of it would advise the perusal of 
one of the latest books having reference to Australian . 
travel, viz : ** Oceana," by Mr. J. A. Froude, the eminent 
historian, published in 1886, which ought to be read in conjunc- 
tion with the present work, either before or after ; if for no other 
reason than to note the contrast between the experiences and 
impressions of the writer of these early adventures and those 
of Mr. Froude, separated by a distance in time of 45 years. 
Between the gypsy-like life and wanderings over a country, 
much of which was neither settled nor explored ; when the 
white population were few in number and the majority of 
them, convicts, or ernancipated convicts, thinly scattered over 
a vast extent of country. When the aborigines were a power 
in the land, to be reckoned with at every step ; when railways 
were unknown, and the bullock-dray, and on horseback were 
the only helps to travel ; when Inns in the interior were things 
unknown ; and when money in the shape of coin were scarcely 
ever seen ; when both the traveller and the remote stock-holder 
had to put up with the simplest fare, without any of the many 
comforts deemed so necessary amongst civilized people. 

It will be interesting to note the great contrast between 
the rough travelling and adventures of an ordinary emigrant 
in those early days, and the luxurious travelling of the 


English gentleman, be it by land or sea, 45 years later ; with 
introductions to Governors and other high-placed officials. 
Hospitably entertained in luxurious homes, even in the far 
interior, ** where good pictures hung round the rooms, where 
books, reviews, and newspapers were strewn about the tables, 
The Saturday^ The Spectator ^ and the rest of them." And with 
free passes over all the Australian railways, special trains being 
provided with the luxuries of a drawing-room car. ** Carriages 
at the stations for us, rooms at the best hotels, and all this 
was to cost us nothing." And when on a railway journey, 
conducted to a superlative carriage lined with blue satin, with 
softest sofas, cushions, arm-chairs ; with tables to be raised or 
let down at pleasure, and a butler in attendance in a separate 
compartment, with provision-baskets, wine, fruit, iced waters, 
and all other luxuries and conveniences." And the whole 
country through which these railway journeys were made, so 
changed ! For these reasons, if for no other, the reader is 
recommended to devote some of his leisure time to the perusal 
of Mr. Froude's book. 

The voyage to Australia being decided on, it was 
neccessary that I should go to Liverpool and select a ship ; 
which journey was partly by coach and partly by rail. There 
was not much difficulty in selecting, for only one was 
advertised to sail for that distant land. The " Heber " was 
the ship's name, of 400 tons burden, and I engaged a second 
class passage. A 400 ton ship would be thought a very small 
one at the present day ; but it was not so then. 

My journal of 1845 has in it very few particulars of the 
voyage out, only about eight lines. One voyage being so much 
like another, it seemed only a waste of time to give particulars 
which would be only a repetition of what was well-known. 
But so great have been the changes during the last fifty years 
in everything, that I am convinced the incidents of a voyage 



FIFTY YEARS AGO. — 1839 TO 1844. I9 

made in that day will have an interest for the present genera- 
tion far and away greater than at the time when this voyage 
was made. It is for that reason these particulars are given. 

I had never been to sea before, except once, from Hull to 
London, and vice versa. 

But this was to be a long voyage, and required some pre- 
paration, which was made in accordance with the advice 
given to emigrants in guide books printed for the purpose ; 
laying in a great store of clothes and purchasing a great many 
other things recommended by them, nearly the whole of which 
I afterwards found to be of no use to me. 

The ship, in due time, was hauled out of the docks into 
the river, where she lay several days, long after her appointed 
time of sailing. She had on board about two hundred 
emigrants, and the following was the sort of accommodation 
provided for them. 

The ship's empty hold, called " 'tween decks," had been 
hastily fitted up with berths made of deal boards, ranging the 
two sides of the hold. The berths were in two tiers, each 
berth made to contain three persons. The single men's berths 
were all together, as also were those belonging to the single 
women. The married people occupied the rest of the hold 
with the exception of a small cabin about eight or ten feet 
square fronting one of the stern windows. That was reserved 
for a hospital. It will be seen that there was not much hospital 
space. In a line with all the berths, on the larboard side, 
and forming a continuation x>{ them, was a small cabin par- 
titioned off with deal boards, and in no respect differing from 
the rest, except in being boarded off in front, and having. a 
door to it. This cabin would not be more than seven feet by 
nine in size. 

Four cribs, or berths, were fitted up inside, and three 
more young men and myself occupied this cabin. A small 
narrow ledge fastened to the side of the ship was called a 
table, where we got our meals ; a bull's eye deck light over 
head, gave us what light we received. 


So small was this cabin, we could not dress or undress 
all together, but had to perform those operations by instal- 
ments, one or two at a time. 

This den was dignified by the name of the intermediate 
or second cabin, and we were intermediate, or second class 
passengers. To crown all, a water closet was fitted up next 
door, adjoining it, and, there being only two on board below, 
it was in constant use. 

. Like myself, none of my fellow intermediates had had 
any experience of the sea. 

The berths being fitted up, as before statied, the whole 
length of the ship, there was a long open space between, 
which now would be fitted up with long tables and forms for 
seats. But that was not so on board the ** Heber." All this 
space was filled with passengers' luggage, and other lumber 
belonging to the ship, which made the hold very dark and 
confined ; leaving, in some places, barely room for the passengers 
to pass to their berths. Below this deck was the lower hold, 
ia which was stored the cargo, water, and provisions. 

All the passengers, with the exception of those in the first 
cabin, and we intermediates, were free emigrants, going out at 
the cost of the Colonial Government. They were what then 
were called ** Bounty Emigrants," not selected, but all the 
waifs and strays which the ship's charterer and his agents 
could collect together, they being paid .so much a head, when 
landed in Sydney. They were chiefly from Scotland and 
Ireland, many of them very poor, and had not a change of 
linen, and were dirty in their persons and habits ; but they 
were not all so. 

As the vessel lay in the river, there was nothing but con- 
fusion on board, and we intermediates complained to the 
agents several times, asking, among other things : " Why is'nt 
all the passengers' luggage and lumber sent down below, and 
so leave the deck clear ? Where are the passengers to get 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. — 1 839 TO 1 844. ^ 

their meals ? " But they always put us off with fair promises. 
Only give them time, and all would be remedied. 

There was an emigration agent appointed by the Govern- 
ment at the ports of London and Liverpool, whose duties 
were supposed to be, to see that the emigrants were not 
imposed upon ; that the vessel was seaworthy ; and there was 
sufficient water and provisions for the voyage ; to see the 
passengers were not overcrowded, and that they had sufficient 
changes of clothing for the voyage. This gentleman was also 
spoken to several times. He also put us off with fine promises, 
but never interfered. 

Towards the end of the month of February 1839, we were 
towed by a steamer into the Irish Channel, and commenced 
our long voyage to Australia, for long it was ; more than five 

It was very stormy in the Irish Channel, with contrary 
winds ; all the passengers, with very few exceptions, being 
down with sea-sickness, and the pile of luggage between decks 
broke loose, tumbling about in all directions. 

A sad night was our first night at sea. Next day supports 
were fastened round the luggage, and with them, and the aid 
of ropes it was made secure, and there it remained to the end 
of the voyage, instead of being sent down below, as was 
promised it should be, for the space below had been filled with 

Had a fever, saying nothing about a fire, broken out on 
board, the consequence must have been disastrous, crowded 
as we were in that dark hold ; and no regulations had been 
made to keep the place clean. The piles of luggage in the 
centre of the hold prevented all circulation of air and furnished 
Jboles and hiding places for filth of every description in which 
to accumulate. 

In due course we got into the Bay of Biscay, and very 
stormy it was. That was my first experience of that Bay. 
Since then, I have crossed it eleven times, but that first time 


was the stormiest I ever experienced in that quarter. Having 
escaped from the Bay of Biscay, we had milder weather, and 
tolerably fair winds, and in about three week's time had 
entered into the latitude of Madeira, and not far from it. 

Then the discomforts occasioned by the stormy weather 
were brought to an end. We had clear skies, and mild and 
warm temperature, like that of an English summer, and the 
passengers were able to put things to rights, and enjoy them- 
selves on deck. And then, for the first time we were able to 
take stock of each other. 

We had two doctors on board. One, the ship's doctor, 
was an Irishman, the other was a Scotsman, and a cabin 
passenger. The ship's doctor was not, as a rule, popular with 
the passengers, yet he and I got on very well together. 

The Scotch doctor was well liked by all, and was always 
ready, in an emergency, to help with advice and assistance 
any of the passengers, when it could be done without causing 
unpleasantness with the ship's doctor. 

We had many Highlanders on board, some of them not 
being able to speak a word of English. We had Irish Catholics 
and Protestants, and it was here I learned for the first time the 
bitter animosity that existed between the two sects ; a degree 
of hatred and malice, totally unknown in England, and which 
in Ireland had been fostered and encouraged by a paternal 
Government. Irish Protestantism seemed to me to have been 
bitten by a mad dog, so vicious and spiteful was it. It was 
more political than religious. But all this animosity calmed 
down wonderfully before the end of the voyage, just as I have 
oftentimes noticed it has a tendency to do in Australia, where 
there are no privileged sects. 

Amongst the steerage passengers was a Scotch school- 
master, who brought an ordinary stone-ware filter on board, 
which he said would turn salt water into fresh, but on making 
the experiment, he found he had made a mistake, so the filter 
was put on one side as a failure. As I said previously, our 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. — 1 839 TO 1 844. 23 

Steerage passengers were very poor, and few of them had 
changes of linen. Some did their best to make their few 
changes clean by washing ; many more, especially the High- 
landers, did without, what the consequence was, will be related 
by and by. 

We were four in number in the second cabin. Two Scots- 
men, one Irishman, and myself, the one Englishman, and on the 
whole we agreed very well together to the end. There were 
about twenty first-cabin passengers of both sexes, and a crew 
of about twenty or twenty-five men. 

Every day's sailing brought us into a warmer climate, 
enabling us all to enjoy life on deck, and escape from the dis- 
comforts below, and this pleasant time continued all through 
the tropics. 

The night of the day we crossed the Line, an old custom 
was revived and put into action, a custom which has long since 
become extmct, and never heard of, or thought of in these days 
of refinement and luxurious travelling. On this night, Neptune 
and his attendants came on board, marched along the deck 
towards the cabin, and requested to pay their respects to the 
captain. The bo'sun (boatswain) performed the part of 
Neptune, dressed in suitable habiliments, a tin crown on his 
head and trident in hand. The captain received Neptune very 
graciously, shook hands with him, inquired after his health, 
and gave him and his attendants a glass of grog each. After 
which, Neptune and his attendants departed as they came 
towards the forecastle end of the ship, after promising to renew 
his visit early next morning, as he had a duty to perform, to 
baptize all those of his children who were for the first time* 
crossing the Line, the centre of his dominions. Neptune 
himself was a grotesque looking character, but if anything, his 
attendants were more so. Amongst them, Neptune's clerk 
wearing a pair of tin spectacles, and carrying a pretence of a 
note- book and pencil, also his barber and doctor, all most 
comically rigged out. An old cask filled with tar and other 


combustibles, was set on fire and thrown overboard, and soon 
floated astern, and was visible a long time after. This was 
supposed to be Neptune departing. 

Early next morning, Neptune and his retinue again made 
an appearance ; a large sail was rigged up, a spar placed on 
the edge of it, and the sail kept continuously filled with sea- 
water, and then began the ceremonial of the day. Every male 
passenger going on deck was at once soused with two or three 
buckets of water, then seated on the spar in front of the bath, 
went through the operation of shaving, and then was pushed 
backwards into the sail full of water. That finished the 
baptism. The shaving was performed with a piece of rough 
hoop iron, and the lather used was slush from the cook's slush 
bucket. This part of the performance gave the operators an 
excellent opportunity to punish those they did not like. 
Amongst these was the ship's doctor. He kept to his cabin, 
but Neptune and his crew broke open his cabin door, dragged 
him out, and shaved him with the rest. 

This, at the present day, would seem a high-handed pro- 
ceeding, and would bring the captain of the ship into the law 
courts, and secure heavy damages. But the captain did not 
interfere, but let Neptune follow his course. 

The doctor vowed vengeance, and threatened the captain 
with an action when we arrived in Sydney ; and he had a 
perfect right to do so ; whether he would have benefited by 
it is doubtful. In those days Neptune was supposed to have 
command of the ship, and these proceedings, when crossing 
the Line, were an old custom, existing independent of law. 

I believe the doctor never brought his action ; or, if he 
did, it was compromised in some way. 

The women were exempt from the performances of 
Neptune, and were privileged to sit on the edge of the 
boats and see the fun. Every one felt himself at liberty to 
souse with a bucket of water everyone else. No one was 
exempt, cabin and steerage passengers were all treated alike. 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. 1 839 TO 1 844. 25 

Even the women got a dose of salt water occasionally, some- 
times by accident, and sonietimes the contrary, and all seemed 
to enjoy the fun. In other latitudes this sousing with water 
would have been anything biit pleasant, but in the tropics, on 
the equator, and the water so warm, it was more agreeable 
than otherwise. 

This saturnalia continued until late in the afternoon, when 
a storm threatening, called all hands to other duties. Neptune 
departed as he came, in a blazing cask, and the discipline of 
the ship was once more restored, and next day all was going 
as usual. 

But before landing at the Cape, I feel I ought to give some 
particulars incidental to the voyage, if only to show the 
emigrants of 1889, the difference between then and now. 

I have already stated how the * 'tween decks ' of the ship, 
which ought to have been clear space for the use of the 
passengers, were filled with luggage, and so they remained to 
the end of the voyage. 

I will now relate how we were provisioned. The agents, in 
their circulars, had stated that '* provisions of the very best 
quality would be found, and no expense spared to insure, as far 
as practicable, the health and comfort of the passengers." 
Nothing could read nicer. 

Here then is the outcome of all these fine promises. The 
following was our allowance of provisions : salt beef and pork, 
and biscuit, and sailors' plum duff twice a week, potatoes 
whilst they lasted, tea and coffee, and we second class passen- 
gers, had an allowance of wine, and all were supposed to have 
an allowance of lime juice. We had no fresh meat, or 
vegetables, except when we put into some port. There were 
no tinned meats, vegetables, or milk in those days. The salt 
pork was tolerable, but the beef was tough and stringy, what 
the sailors called ** old, horse," evidently the flesh of old cows 
and other animals hardly suitable for the ordinary market, but 
we were at sea, and there was no remedy. Our allowance of 


water was supposed to be three quarts per day, for all purposes, 
washing, cooking, and everything. But, as will be seen, that 
allowance did not last long. Whilst the ship lay in the river 
at Liverpool, fifteen casks of water were taken out of the ship's 
hold, to make room for a cargo of soap. Some of us passengers 
remonstrated with the agents, and also complained to the 
emigration agent about this. We were, as usual, put off with 
fair promises that all should be remedied. 

Before we reached the Line we were put on a short allow- 
ance of water, being allowed only two-and-a-half ^ints each 
person, for every purpose, tea, soup, and washing. The salt 
beef and pork were always boiled in sea -water ; as to washing , 
we had to discontinue doing that in fresh water, and use sea 
water, which is neither pleasant nor cleanly. Two-and-a-half 
pints of water in the tropics we found very insufficient. 
Where our water supply came from I don't know ; but when we 
got into the tropics it fermented, and when a cask was opened,, 
the stench from it spread quickly all over the ship, like the 
smell from rotten eggs, and the taste was much the same. 

There is a sulphurous water at Horrogate in Yorkshire, 
which invalids patronize. Well then, this water was like 
Harrogate water. Boiling improved it a little, but not much. 

There were two ship's galleys for cooking purposes on the 
main deck, one being used for the cabin passengers, and the 
other for the steerage and ourselves. On leaving Liverpool, 
the agents appointed a cook from amongst the passengers for 
our galley. Before he had held his office a month he threw it 
up, and then the steerage passengers had to cook for them- 
selves ; which was the cause of no end of scrambling and 
fighting, each one trying to get his cooking done first. We 
second-class passengers got our cooking done by bribing the 
cabin passengers' cook. 

Nearly all the voyage we swarmed with lice, brought into 
the ship by some dirty Highlanders. We began to feel their 
companionship soon after getting into the tropics. They then 

FIFTY YEARS AGO 1 839 TO 1 844. 27 

rapidly spread over all the lower- decks, and at last got amongst 
the sailors and into the best cabin. These companions we 
never got rid of until the end of the voyage. 

Rats also were plentiful and infested our cabin. If we 
stopped them out in one place, they made an entrance by 

Whilst in the tropics, it was suffocating down below, and 
no means were adopted, as is customary now, to ventilate with 
wind -sails. Those who could, kept on deck night and day, I 
did for one, and having made a friend of the carpenter, used 
to sleep on his tool-chest, in the forecastle, where it lay in 
front of a wide opening to the air outside. 

As we got into more southern latitudes the weather became 
colder, and we intermediates could then enjoy our cabin when 
night set in, and our evening coffee and biscuits, for we had 
little else that was eatable. We were then lighted up by the 
aid of a swinging oil lamp. Then we enjoyed ourselves, for 
my shipmates were pleasant company. Plenty of conversation, 
but very little singing. We might be said to have had only 
one song, but that one was a great favourite, and thoroughly 
enjoyed by all. One of our company, had a short time before 
leaving Liverpool, witnessed the play of Roh Roy, in which 
play, there is a stirring chorus, much in the style of some of 
Moody and Sankeys' hymns, or those of the Salvation Army. 

*' A famous man was Robin Hood : 

" The English ballad singer's joy, 
** But Scotland has a thief as good, 

" She has, she has, her bold Rob Roy." 

That was our song, morning and evening, and on all occasions 
when we felt particularly jubilant over any event that had 
happened. Never a night but what we would have it when our 
tea was finished. 

Small as was our cabin, we could make room for visitors, 
and often had passengers from the cabin to join us in our 
merry-making. On so long a voyage class distinctions don't 
last long. The most frigid will thaw in time. 


Such was life on board a Liveqxjol emigrant ship in 1839. 
I write Liverpool, because they were the worst managed 
em^rant ships sailing. Marshall's line from London, was in 
every respect very much superior. 

In about three weeks after crossing the line we were clear 
of "the tropics, and in due time reached the Cape of Good 
Hope, having been nearly four months making the passage from 


Cape Town, and the great Table mountain, were both 
pleasant sights to us next morning, and all the passengers were 
supplied with fresh meat and vegetables, a great treat to them 
after luxuriating so iong on ship's diet, and those who could 
afford it, could buy fruit very cheap, and soft bread. If I 
remember rightly, there was no landing place for boats except 
on the open beach, which under certain conditions of wind and 
tide, made landing for a boat, not perilous, but a wet one. 

We remained about a week in Table Bay and I and many 
others went daily on shore, where we spent our time ranging 
the country round about Cape Town and under Table Moimtain 
which is a stupendous mass of naked rock, 3858 feet above the 
level of the sea, and on the town side nearly perpendicular. 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. 1 839 TO 1 844. 29 

We had arranged to ascend this mountain, but were 
strongly urged not to attempt it, for should a fog cloud cover 
the mountain, which happens sometimes almost without warn- 
ing, our journey -might end in disaster, as it had done aforetime 
to others. And it so happened, the morning of the day of our 
intended ascent, the mountain had covered itself with its table- 
cloth, the name given by the colonists to the fog cloud on its 
summit. That of course settled the matter. 

I am not going to give any lengthy description of Cape 
Town, that, any school geography will do. I will merely give 
our impressions of the place and people. 

Having been formerly an old Dutch colony, and now being 
an English one, the white population were of both races. 

I remember when at school, seeing pictures of the Dutch, 
which represented them as enormously bulky, broad as long, 
and that was our impression of what the Dutch ought to be, 
learned at school. On the contrary, we found them to be 
a handsome race, well proportioned, and courteous and obliging 
in manner. Since that time I have had many illusions dispelled, 
and that illusion about the Dutch being proportionately as 
broad as they were long, was one of them. And another 
illusion cherished in those days at school, was, . that one 
Englishman was at any time a match for three Frenchmen, so 
vain-glorious had we, as a nation, become, and that feeling was 
never checked, but looked upon as true patriotism, although 
we were at the same time taught to pray : — ** From pride, vain- 
glory and hypocrisy ; from envy, hatred and malice, and all 
uncharitableness. Good Lord deliver us." 

But the long war with the French and Napoleon, ending 
with Waterloo, and only recently concluded, blinded our 
spiritual and temporal guides, causing them to forget the nobler 
sentiments embodied in that prayer. 

The Dutch seemed well conversant with the English 
language, and therefore we had no difficulty on that score. 
On the whole we liked the Dutch better than we did those of 
English descent. 


The black population was very numerous, and of all shades 
of black, and seemed to enjoy their liberty to the fullest extent. 
For I ought to mention, that only four years had elapsed since 
slavery was abolished in the colonies, and the slaves were now 
free. They seemed perfectly satisfied with the change, but 
their white masters and owners, anything but that. 

1 remember sitting one night in one of the hotels (and 
there wer^ some very comfortable ones), over a big log fire, for 
it was cold, so the natives said, although we did not think so, 
being the beginning of the Cape winter, discussing with a 
number of Cape Town gentry, the question of the slavery that 
was gone ; and it was amusing to listen to their remarks, on 
that, to them, sore subject, from their point of view, which 
/ was so different to ours. The amount of compensation was 

the great sore with them. The compensation, said they, given 
to the owners of slaves, was a dead robbery, not much more 
than half the value of the slaves. 

"You remember," said one, turning to his fellow townsman 
sitting alongside of him, ** that fellow * Ginger ' that I owned. 
All the compensation I got for him was £20, and he was well 
worth, in the market, thirty." And So the conversation went on, 
and for a long time, on that one subject. 

We were highly amused. It was something so novel for 
us to mix with people who, only the other day, were slave 
holders, but who in other respects were most pleasant and 

We enjoyed life at the Cape, and the good living, and we 
enjoyed their wine ; pleasant drinking, not so fiery as wine at 
home, and only twopence halfpenny the bottle. 

The day at last came when we had to leave the Cape and 
continue the voyage. 

On calling the roll of the passengers, to see if all were on 
board, two were missing. We had, on the voyage from Liver- 
pool, a little old man and his wife. They were unknown to 
any of the passengers. They would sit on deck by themselves, 

FIFTY YEARS AGO 1 839 TO 1 844. 3 1 

seldom had they anything to say to their fellow emigrants, and 
not much to each other. These were the two passengers who 
were missing. The captain soon found that it was useless for 
him to wait for them. They had bolted. It came out, the man 
had once been a soldier at the Cape, which country, it appeared, 
he was anxious to see once more. 

There were no free passages to the Cape in those days, 
so in order to get there, he and his wife shipped themselves as 
Bounty emigrants to Australia. On arriving at th©'Caf)e they 
went on shore like the rest, smuggling their few odds and ends 
from the ship by instalments, and eventually vanished. 

Sailing out of Table Bay we were soon in the Southern 
Ocean. The climate was now much colder than previously, 
and as far as regards the sailing of the ship, nothing of import- 
ance happened during the remainder of the voyage. The winds, 
as a rule, were strong from the west, as they usually are in 
these latitudes, and therefore, in our favour. During the whole 
time after leaving the Bay of Biscay, we had very little of what 
might be called stormy weather, being very fortunate in that 

Deficient as we were, on arriving at the Cape, of many 
things, including provisions and water, these deficiencies ought 
then to have been rectified. But hardly anything was done. 
We took on board fresh meat and vegetables to last us about 
a week ; in other respects we were as badly off as ever. 

After we left the Cape our biscuit supply was both mouldy 
and full of maggots, and much of it damaged by sea water, and 
for three weeks before our arrival in Sydney, all the provisions 
we had were salt beef and flour, flour that had to be cut in 
pieces with an axe. We had still good coffee, but no sugar, 
although there was a limited supply on board. As for the 
biscuit, that was uneatable, our only resource then, was to get 
biscuit from the sailors, which was excellent. The captain at 
last, gave strict orders to the sailors not to give their biscuit 
away ; then we would steal it, and the sailors, with whom we 


were always friendly, would turn their faces another way, and 
not see us doing it. When the captain used to call out " All 
hands aft here," that was the signal for us to pillage. 

We would relate to one another at night over our coffee, 


our success in biscuit stealing during the day. All was thrown 
into one common stock, and if particularly successful, we would 
sing — " A famous man was Robin Hood." 

But coffee without sugar was not pleasant to any of us, 
but that want was remedied at last in a way quite unexpected. 
Our purser had been taking stock, and had discovered that the 
supply of sugar was nearly run out ; and what there was left 
was brought up from the lower hold, and locked in the store 
between decks. This all happened about three weeks before 
entering Port Jackson. About midnight of that day the wind 
was inclined to be stormy, and the ship rolled very much. A 
cask of herrings happened to be below on our deck, which, after 
rolling about, and smashing two or three of the passengers' 
boxes, biurst, and scattered the contents. Several of the young 
fellows began throwing the herrings at each other. We heard 
the row, and thought it was the passengers breaking open the 
store, which they had previously done two or three times. 

We therefore, that is, we second cabin passengers, got up 
and dressed, and went to the scene of action, determined they 
should not have all. When we got to the store, we found they 
had blown out the lights, and were breaking it down, and fight- 
ing hand over head as to who should have the contents. We 
then joined in, and after a good deal of trouble, succeeded in 
getting one bag, out of the three bags of sugar, and got it safely 
lodged in our cabin. 

The store was demolished that night, and everyone who 
could, appropriated the contents. Next day we shared our bag 
of sugar, chiefly amongst the single women, they being power- 
less to help themselves, after having reserved what we thought 
to be a sufficient quantity for ourselves ; and we made a nice 
calculation, for our stock just lasted us until the day we cast 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. 1 839 TO 1 844. 33 

anchor in Port Jackson. Coffee and biscuit, I may say, were 
the only things we did have, for the salt meat I never ate after 
leaving the Cape. 

Off the coast of Australia, the weather was stormy, and we 
had part of our bulwarks carried away, but eventually we 
entered Port Jackson on the evening of July 26th, in the year 
1839 ; eight weeks after leaving the Cape of Good Hope, and 
anchored in Watson's Bay for the night ; having been a little 
over five months since leaving Liverpool, and not a day too 
soon, for the discipline of the ship was nearly at an end. 

Our voyage had been, comparatively speaking, a favourable 
'one, as regards being free from stormy and tempestuous weather ; 
and notwithstanding the dirt and discomfort to which we had 
been subjected, we were all in good health, and three more in 
number than when we left England, having had eight children 
born on board the ship, losing five by death. 

We were also fortunate in never having met with any 
serious accident, for if, from any cause, we had been compelled 
to take to the ship's boats, nothing could have averted a 
calamitous disaster ; for our boats could not have held half 
of us, neither would they have been found to be sea-worthy. 

Watson's Bay lies to the left of the entrance into Port 
Jackson, and is one of those numerous coves, or indents into 
the land, which are characteristic of that Port. 

In this calm and placid lake, for so I might call it, we lay 
all night, sheltered from all winds. 

Next morning a dense fog prevented us from seeing any- 
thing of our surroundings, but about noon the fog cleared away, 
the day was warm and sunny, and we were enabled to see the 
picturesque shores of this magnificent harbour, for magnificent 
it is, but which I am not going to attempt to describe. That 
has been done many times, both before and since. 



The capstan was manned, and the anchor again weighed, 
to the sailor's cheery song of 

'* Kitty was a young thing 
And lately left her mammy ho 
Yo-ho hi — he — ho — &o . ' ' 

which we had heard many times, and in a short time we arrived 
in front of the town (town then) of Sydney, when we again cast 
anchor for the last time. 


The Police Courta — Sajtn Terry, the Bich Emancipist. 

jHAT same night, I, and two or three others, took advantage 
of the ship's boat going ashore, joined the boat's crew, and 
landed for the first time on an Australian shore. It 
was too dark to distinguish objects, but we secured that which 
we had for weeks been longing for, some soft bread, and fresh 
butter. I remember we thought Sydney a dreary place in the 
night time, whatever it might be during the day. The streets 
were then lighted with oil lamps only, and not too many of 
them, and we noticed also how frequently the watchmen's 
rattles gave the alarm, we felt that indeed we were in close 
proximity to the dreaded Botany Bay at last. However, we 
returned to the ship, where many of our shipmates were 
anxiously awaiting our return, in order to hear our report and 
first impressions of this our adopted country. Little could we 
tell them except this : that our store of fresh bread and butter 
on which we were going to luxuriate, on what we expected 
would be our last night on board, was a very expensive com- 
modity. Bread being one shilling and fourpence the two 
pound loaf, and butter three shillings and sixpence the pound ; 
news which had a depressing effect on many of the passengers, 
who evidently repented having come to what was apparently 
so unpromising a country. But these fears proved in the end 
groundless; for *' times " in the colony were very good, money 
plentiful, and employment, at a high rate of wages, to be had 


The following morning, the Colonial Government Com- 
missioners came on board, their duty being to examine the 
passengers, and to ask them if they had any complaint to make 
with respect to their treatment during tjie voyage. Most of the 
passengers being Bounty emigrants, if their treatment on board 
had been generally bad, the shippers ran a risk of losing the 
Bounty money of about £1^ or ;f2o a head. But I don*t " 
believe the shippers were at all uneasy on that score. The 
enquiry was a farce, as much so as was the Government 
Emigration Commissioners' supervision at Liverpool. Every 
passenger was asked separately if he had any complaint to 
make, and their answers taken down in writing with due 
official solemnity. As near as I can remember, half of them 
lodged complaints. Many who had been loudest in their 
protestations as to what they would do, had no complaint to 
make. With them the voyage was at an end, and the past 
they now cared nothing about. They were too glad to escape 
from the confinement of ship-board, and too much engrossed 
with their future prospects. Whether these Commissioners 
made a report or not we never knew, for we never heard 
another word about it. 

The next day the ship was invaded by a large number of 
the colonists for the purpose of hiring, and every one got hired 
who wished, and at good wages, and the day following I left 
the ship for the last time, and took lodgings in the town, 
which I did not occupy long, but joined another of my ship 
mates, John Bruse by name, a good-natured Irishman, my 
cabin companion, and with him I roughed it the remainder of 
my stay in Sydney, and always made his house my home, 
when in my ramblings I went there, to the last day of my 
sojourn in the colony. My friend John, unlike myself, settled 
steadily down to business, married a wife, and years ago, was 
a very prosperous individual. 

Of the remainder of the passengers, many drifted away 
into the interior, and many remained in Sydney. 

FIFTY YEARS AGO 1 839 TO 1 844. 37 

Shipmates, companions together on so long a voyage, when 
landed in a strange country, always look upon each other as 
members of one family. We know one another intimately, 
and whenever we by chance meet again, the meeting was 
always most agreeable to both parties. 

Lying in the harbour was another emigrant ship from 
London, one of Marshall's Line; she arrived a few days before 
us, having sailed some time after we did. It would scarcely 
be believed the difference between the comfort and accom- 
modation of this ship and ours, so much superior was it. I 
made the acquaintance of one of the emigrants, a genial young 
fellow, a land surveyor by profession. I will call him Castro, 
his name being something like it. He, like many more of his 
class, for whom there was no emplojnnent, drifted into the 
interior, where I again met him a long time after ; the shepherd 
of a flock of sheep. 

Soon after landing, owing to making too free with fruit, 
after living so long on the ship's diet, I had a severe attack of 
dysentery, so severe that I thought I should never recover, but 
through the kindness and skill of our Scotch doctor, who often 
came to see us, I regained my usual health. 

Now I shall give a short description of Sydney, as it 
appeared fifty years ago, it may interest the younger colonists 
if not others. 

The principal streets were George Street and Pitt Street. 
George street was the main street of Sydney, and had in it 
some good shops and hotels. In both streets there were waste 
pieces of ground, either entirely blank, or occupied by shabby 
wooden houses. There are no blanks or wooden houses now. 
Coming up George Street from the Circular Wharf there was 
another street to the right, running parallel to George Street, 
and occupying much higher ground, its name I forget. It 
scarcely deserves to be called a street, the few houses in it 
being chiefly wooden erections and dilapidated. On one part 
was a mound of rubbish, the remains of an old jail that had 


been pulled down, if I remember aright, not many weeks before 
we landed. But just before the demolition of the old jail, six 
men had been hanged there, for an atrocious murder of the 
blacks. For a long time afterwards, when in the interior, I 
often heard related the hanging of these six ** poor fellows," as 
some sympathisers designated them, but if what I heard was 
true, they richly deserved their fate, and I heard some ** old 
hands," old emancipists, who knew the particulars, say the 

There was still a small remnant left of the Sydney tribe of 
blacks occasionally to be seen in the streets. Whether they 
were provided by Government with food and clothing, I don*t 
remember. One of them I can call to mind in a ragged old 
coat and trousers and an equally dilapidated old chimney pot 
hat, was as fluent in colonial English as any ** old hand," having 
high words with a white fellow in the street, who hinted at 
telling the governor : "Go," said this chieftain [of the former 
owners of Sydney, "and tell the governor; what do I care 

about the governor? not a d ; I am as good a fellow as the 

b governor." This remnant has, I believe, long since become 


The Sydney newspapers were much occupied at this 
time discussing the life and career of the late Sam Terry, the 
rich emancipist, who had died a few days previous, leaving 
behind him half — or a quarter of a million of money, I forget 
which, but I believe the first figure was the correct sum. Sam 
had been a very fortunate man, and had good reason to bless 
the day when he was transported to Botany Bay for stealing 
geese. Sam was a Yorkshireman, and must have been trans- 
ported early in the present century, if not at the end of the last 
one ; transported at a period of time when to steal five shillings 
from the person or a shop was a capital offence. How Sam 
escaped hanging is a mystery ; at a time when two hundred and 
twenty three offences, for which hanging was the penalty in his 
day, and to steal a goose even from a "common" was one of 
them. It was not so, stealing the " common " from the goose. 

FIFTY YEARS AGO.— 1839 TO 1 844. 3g 

This was a high-handed proceeding sanctioned by a patriotic 
legislature, having the welfare of their country at heart. — 
See Appendix D, 

Sam, I believe, left one only son behind him to help to 
dissipate the wealth he had so assiduously accumulated. How 
he did accumulate it was related in the newspapers at the time, 
and was interesting and amusing. 

The convict population at this time were variously dis- 
tributed. Many were in the employ of the Government, and 
many distributed over the interior, assigned servants to the 
colonists. The bulk of the remainder of the population were 
emancipated convicts, either free men or ticket -of -leave men. 
Free emigrants were very few in number. The whole colony 
was, more or less, a great prison. Early in the morning, gangs 
of convicts took their departure from the prisoners' barracks^ 
marching up George Street to the several places where they 
had work, road making, or on government buildings. All the 
men of these gangs had chains on their legs, and the clanking 
of these chains used to awaken us in the early morning, 
reminding us how near we were to Botany Bay. 

In coming up George Street, after passing the old de- 
molished jail, to the right, in the very centre of the street, were 
the military barracks, covering a great space of ground. These 
barracks are long since demolished, and the value of the ground 
on which they stood must be enormous now. Further up the 
street, on the same side, was the fruit and vegetable market, 
small in size, but very creditable for such a town as Sydney 
then was. A little further on was the police office. Many a 
morning during my stay in Sydney have I been there, listening 
to the cases tried. There were two Courts, one for the Civil 
population, the other for the convicts; and a large courtyard in 
front of the offices. In this courtyard were three or four pairs 
of stocks, and daily could be seen a dozen or more serving their 
sentence in the stocks; the yard being fenced off from the 
street by open iron pallisades, of course it and its inmates were 
visible to the street. The stocks were the punishment for 


minor offences, such as being drunk and noisy in the streets. 
During this time H.M.S. ** Favourite" lay in the harbour,, and 
I remember one of the sailors being in the dock for drunken- 
ness; a fine looking, pleasant-faced man he was. "Well," said 
the magistrate, **what have you got to say in answer to this 
charge? " " Nothing, yer honor, I was drunk, there is no 
mistake about that." 

*' Sorry am I," said the magistrate, ** to see a gallant sailor 
of H.M. Navy standing in that dock. The sentence of the 
Court is, that you pay a fine of five shillings, or two hours in 
the stocks. Have you got the money ?" 

The sailor answered, ** No, yer honor." 

Then a gentleman in the body of the Court came forward 
and said : ** I will pay the fine for Jack," and handed him the 
money, which Jack smilingly received and pocketed, saying, 
** Thank yer honor, but I will not give these' folks here the five 
shillings, I shall keep it, and drink yer honor's health with it, 
and go and take it out in wood ; " so amidst the laughter of the 
Court, in which the magistrate joined. Jack went out, and took 
his sentence out in ** wood." 

The stocks were after all a mild form of punishment. The 
"old hands " took the punishment as coolly as if sitting in their 
own arm chairs, and passed their time talking to one another, 
under the guard of a policeman looking on. 

The Court for the trial of the convict population, either 
those in the service of the Government, or as assigned servants 
to different masters, was conducted in a very different spirit to 
the Civil Court: An assigned servant charged with any offence, 
seemed to me to have very little chance of escaping punish- 
ment. The convict's explanation seldom gained either credit 
or leniency, but was generally cut short by a sentence of so 
many lashes with the ** cat-o-nine tails," and then returned to 

There were many assigned servants in Sydney and the dis- 
trict, and in many cases, under a considerate master, were very 

FIFTY YEABS AGO. — 1839 TO 1844. 4I 

favourably situated. It was no unusual thing for friends of the 
convicts to follow them out and apply for the convict as an 
assigned servant, and get them. Wives would often obtain 
their husbands in that way. The convict would become an 
assigned servant to his wife ; this advantage could only be 
gained when the relatives of the convict were well-to-do, and 
could set up in business. This system was unfair and imjust, 
for the poorer convicts had no such opportunities. 

There were several churches, belonging to various denomi- 
nations, and several weekly newspapers, but no dailies, and no 
omnibuses or cabs, as far as I can remember. The theatre was 
a very creditable one, or such as may be seen in a town in 
England of 25 to 30,000 inhabitants. I went there two or 
three times, and relished the performance much. The band 
was excellent. At the first theatrical performance ever given 
in Sydney, the performers were all convicts or emancipists, and 
it is related, in old histories of the colony, how that the prologue 
to the first performance contained these words : — 

** We patriots are, for, as patriots should, 

" We left our couatry for our country's good." 

I also made an excursion to the towns of Windsor and 
Richmond on the river Hawksbury, a rich and fertile country, 
none more productive in the colony. The banks of this river 
are extraordinary for their depth, the water seems to lie at the 
bottom of a ravine ; and well it is that they are deep, for the 
flood waters on one occasion were ninety-seven feet above the 
ordinary level. Another excursion I made was to Botany Bay, 
the place of which I had heard so much in my boyish days. 
It is no great distance from Sydney, some six or seven miles. 
A wide open Bay, with rocky ravines in some places on its 
borders, and a great variety of beautiful flowering bushes, the 
same which were the cause of its gaining the name of Botany 
Bay on its first discovery. 

A favourite excursion was to hire a boat and sail over to 
some of the coves on the North Shore ; little sequestered inlets, 



totally uninhabited, where we used to feast on the delicious 
rock oysters. Mossman's Bay was one of that class. There 
was also on the north shore Billy Blue's point. Billy Blue's 
cottage was the only habitation there, kept by his wife, a black 
woman, for Billy himself was dead. What is the north shore 
now ? Is it not North Sydney ? The Government domain 
was a charming spot I often visited. 

I had now been nearly three months in Sydney, my 
object being to see the colony and gain colonial experience, I 
saw plainly that loitering longer in Sydney would not do ; 
would not gain for me the end I had in view. Although not in 
want of means, I had come out to the colony with the inten- 
tion of working my way as an ordinary working man, being 
convinced that this was the safest and surest way of going to 
work. Gain experience first, then invest, if it proved expedient 
to do so. 

To go into the interior was my wish, but how to get there, 
and what to do when there, was the difficult problem I had to 
solve. However, this difficulty was overcome, I having had an 
offer of a store keeper's place, in a general store at Quean- 
beyan. Limestone Plains, about two hundred miles south of 
Sydney. This offer I looked upon as a favourable opportunity 
for commencing life in the interior, and I was right, for being 
once established there, I never afterwards felt at a loss as to what 
I should do ; and I stipulated that I should be at liberty to 
leave my employment on a week's notice, should that be 
necessary, in case I should meet with anything more congenial 
to my fancies. 

Note : — Long after the whole of this book was written, and 
in the hands of the printer, in the month of December, 
1892 ; the writer, by mere accident, found in an old En- 
cyclopedia, some details of the hanging of the six men, for 
the murder of black natives, mentioned in this chapter ; 
details, which he had sought for in vain, but could never find 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. — 1 839 TO 1 844. 43 

in any of the old histories of the penal colony of New South 

It is to ** The Popular Encyclopedia," a work published, by 
Blackie and Son, of Edinburgh, the writer is indebted for 
this addition ; the first volumn of which bears the date, 1836, 
and in the Supplement to the volumes, are a few particulars 
of the hanging of these six men, and the crime for which 
they were executed. But seven, is the number there given 
as having been hanged, which I have no doubt is the correct 
number. — Writing about the natives of Australia, the author 
continues as follows : 

" In the Interior, their number seems to be diminishing ; from 
famine, war, and the cruelty and encroachments of white 
settlers' at Sydney and other towns, where they exist chiefly 
by begging vice and disease, are fast destroying them. The 
ill-usage which they receive from the colonists in the back 
settlements, who, besides depriving them of their fishing 
station and their kangaroo grounds, often shoot them 
relentlessly, like so many wild animals, is a disgrace to the 
colour and the creed of the whites ; it displays a soul blacker 
than the skin of the poor negro — a creed more cruel than the 
most savage of his superstitions. So recently as June, 1838, 
a case occurred in New South Wales, in which eleven 
convicts, some of them emancipated, destroyed, and after- 
wards burned the bodies of no fewer than twenty-eight native 
blacks, men, women and children, on no other provocation 
that could be conceived, than a suspicion of some of the 
natives having stabbed some of the cattle in charge of the 

• convicts. History scarcely furnishes a case equal to this in 
atrocity ; yet when the culprits were brought to trial in 
November, 1838, such is the prejudice of the colonists against 
the natives — in so little estimation is the life of the latter 
held — that a jury found, in the teeth of the most satisfactory 
evidence, the whole of the eleven convicts — Not Guilty ; and 
it was only on a second trial, on a new indictment, that seven 
were, with difficulty, pronounced guilty, and executed." 


Queanbeyan — Limestone Plains — Molonglo and Maneroo described. 

TlHE day after we made the agreement, I began my journey 
into the Interior, going by coach to Campbell Town, where I 
stayed the night at an Inn. I am not quite sure, but I think, 
I paid some three or four pounds for this coach journey. The 
next morning, being Sunday, I walked to the Cow Pasture 
river, where was a store, I having a letter of introduction to 
the person who kept it. The proprietor of the store, was a 
gentlemanly man, and his wife was a most ladylike woman ; 
and they treated me most kindly ; he was an ** old hand " that 
is, had been transported, but had been a free man some years. 

I may as well state here the meaning of some colonial 
phrases, at all times in use by the convict population. A man 
who had been transported, was said to have been ** lagged," 
and a transport was an **old lag." None were ever called 
convicts, but ** prisoners of the Crown," or Government men, 
and no one who valued his own comfort would call them any- 
thing else. 

From this place I was to start, with a dray load of goods, 
to the store I was bound for ; the following morning, soon after 
daylight, the bullock driver drove up with his team, a two- 
wheeled dray, and six bullocks ; my box of clothes and sundries 
were placed on the dray, a flock mattress, two pairs of blankets, 
and a small cask of ship's biscuits ; then we proceeded on our 
journey. The bullock driver was a Londoner, he had been 


transported to Botany Bay for the term of his natural life, and, 
like most of his class, had no particular liking for emigrants. 
** Old hands " and emigrants seldom amalgamate. I thought 
he was a blackguard on our first acquaintance, because he was 
an adept in the low slang, so common with the prison popula- 
tion, but I liked him better before the end of our journey ; and 
found his slang was more from habit than from a vicious 
disposition. This old fellow and his son were my companions 
until we arrived at our destination. 

We used to travel about fifteen miles a day, and at night 
we would encamp alongside a stream, lagoon, or chain of ponds. 
The bullocks would be unyoked and turned out to grass, and 
those likely to stray far would be hobbled on the fore feet. 

The first day we crossed Razor Back Mountain. When 
we got to the other side of the range, we encamped there for * 
the night, along with two or three more drays, from up the 
country, going to Sydney. 

I was stopped this day by a mounted policeman, who 
demanded my passport ; or, to speak more plainly, wished to 
know who I was ; whither I was going, and whether I was 
free or bond. This was something new to me, and a con- 
tingency I had never thought it necessary to prepare for. This 
was not the only time I was stopped, but many times afterwards, 
as will be seen before this journal comes to an end. 

However, the bullock driver answered by telling him, that 
if he had been as sharp witted as he ought to be, he would 
have known at once that I wasa"jimmigrant." What the bullock 
driver said was true enough, for anyone who had been in the 
colony some length of time, would know a newly arrived 
" jimmigrant " at once. There is always such an air of simplicity 
about him, and everything he does, and his dress, manners, 
and conversation are so very different, from those of an " old 
hand." Often, on the voyage out, we had arguments about the 
words " emigrant " and ** immigrant." Why, and what the 
difference. We had not the sense to see that when landed in 
the colony, we were not " emigrants," but ** immigrants." 


This was the first night I had camped out, so that it was 
quite a novelty to me. The night was fine and moonUght, and 
the air was warm and pleasant, and like all travellers in the 
bush, we had a huge fire made of the limbs of dead trees, 
which were abundant. I remember a centipede crawling over 
my face, whilst seated on the end of the biggest log, driven out 
of it by the heat of the fire. That was my first acquaintance 
with a centipede, a crawling reptile about six inches long, but 
no harm came of that. 

After I had got my supper, and a smoke of the pipe, I 
made down my bed alongside the dray, where I soon fell asleep. 
In the morning the fire was made up, breakfast was got ready, 
whilst the morning wash was performed in a stream, for which 
purpose, we carried one or two towels and a piece of soap. I 
mention this, because it was an every day practice when travel- 
ling and camping out. I may mention also, that camping out, 
in the genial warm climate of Australia (unless it rains), is no 
hardship, but a pleasure. 

The next day, we were joined by another drayman, going to 
Yass, and the Murrumbidgee. He kept company with us for 
some days, until the turn of the road to Queanbeyan, where we 
parted. I enjoyed this man's company, and was sorry when 
, we did part. He had been an old soldier, and after that, a 
border (mounted) policeman. His conversation was pleasanter 
to listen to than that of the bullock driver, and free from slang. 
On his discharge from the army, he had purchased a team of 
bullocks, and earned a livelihood by carrying for ** settlers," in 
the interior. When we were camped at night round our log fire, 
and after supper was over, these two men would talk over their 
colonial experience, since their sojourn in the colony, and 
relate stories of bush-ranging ; of conflicts between bush-rangers 
and the police ; conflicts between the old settlers and the blacks, 
in the early days of the colony ; of men lost in the bush, and 
never heard of again, and many other strange adventures. 
They did not address their conversation to me, but they talked 
over these past events, just as two friends might any common- 

FIFTY YEARS AGO — 1 839 TO 1 844. 47 

place occurrence. Their stories interested me much, and I 
have many times regretted I did not make a note of their 
extraordinary statements, as I might have done whilst on the 
road, and could have filled in the particulars when at the store. 
Nothing I can now relate, could have been so apposite to the 
Australia of fifty years ago. 

The road we travelled was a good one, till we arrived at 
Goulburn Plains. Afterwards it was nothing but a bush 
track, with no bridges over the water courses. The country 
now began to assume that parkified appearance, so character- 
istic, of the highlands of Australia. The country would have 
the appearance of a park in some places, in others, what the 
settlers call, ** open forest," with trees thinly scattered, sufficient- 
ly so that a horseman could canter between them with comfort, 
and of course the natural grasses everywhere. Sometimes we 
would rest a day. I remember on one of these days getting out 
my shaving apparatus, and making an attempt at shaving, but 
not succeeding very well, the bullock driver came to me and 
said : " Here, you don't know how to shave. Let me shave 
you." To this I agreed, but whilst he was performing the 
operation, I suddenly thought to myself: Suppose this man 
was to cut my throat ; he is an ** old hand," and might take 
it into his head to do it for the sake of what I had on his dray, 
as I heard, in the conversation between him and the retired police- 
man, had been done. And then he could report me at the 
store, as having wandered away from the dray, and got lost in 
the bush, and could not be found. These thoughts were in my 
mind during the shaving process, and I resolved that if I 
escaped, this time, being murdered, never again should any 
man shave me, and I have stuck to my resolve, for no man has 
ever done so since. 

There are a number of townships marked down on the 
map as being south of Goulburn, but, excepting Yass, it would 
be difficult for a stranger to find them. Marulan had at this 
time but two houses, Bungonia three or four, and Bungadore 
two ; but the country in which they are situated is barren, and 


to all appearance it would be many years before they became 
of any importance, except from being situated on one of the 
principal roads of the colony. 

Our next important stopping place was Breadalbane 
Plains, then Lakes George and Bathurst, and yet they were 
not lakes, but beautiful grassy plains ; more especially Lake 
George, which was as level as a bowling green, and bounded 
by low ranges of mountainous hills. But when these plains 
were first discovered they were sheets of water. Lake George, 
in 1828, was a sheet of water 17 miles in length, and 7 in 
breadth. At the present time some cattle were grazing on 
Lake George, but not a sign of either inhabitant or habitation. 

We had been cautioned to look out for Bushrangers, as 
there were known to be sixteen, armed and mounted, headed 
by " Possum Jack." And owing to these reports, we expected 
nothing else than to see " Possum Jack " and his men make an 
attack on our dray, but we saw nothing of them. 

We arrived at the store, Queanbeyan, Limestone Plains, 
in about three weeks after leaving Sydney. Our store joined 
an Inn, both being under the same management, and about a 
mile from the township. The Inn was a substantial stone 
built residence, formerly the house of a well-to-do settler. The 
store was, as is customary in the bush, built of timber slabs 
and roofed with sheets of bark. There was also another store, 
of a similar description, in the township, kept by a Mr. Black. 
Whilst I was living here, a gang of bushrangers paid Mr. 
Black a visit, but never troubled our store. And this is how 
they proceed when they pay their visits. They ride up, always 
in broad daylight, some of them dismount, enter the door, and 
presenting their guns at the occupants, order them to stand 
with their faces to the wall, until others of the gang have 
searched the place and seized all they wish to take away ; then 
they depart. In this case, Mrs. Black turned her face from the 
wall and looked at the men, who asked her at once what she 
was doing that for. Her answer was : "So that I may know 
you again." A bold answer ; which, had it come from a man. 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. 1 839 TO 1 844. 49 

might have been the cause of his receiving a bullet from one of 
their guns. But they spared Mrs. Black. 

These stores have generally everything that is required in 
the bush. The duty in the one I had charge of was very light. 
Sometimes we would be two or three days and not have a 
customer. At other times we might have two or three who 
would lay out at one time from ten to fifty pounds. Keeping 
a store was not like keeping a shop in England. Unless a 
customer came, the store was kept locked up. I could have a 
whole day in which to rove about, or pay visits, almost as often 
as I wished ; and yet the profits of a general store were not to 
be despised. It was not unusual to hear of storekeepers in 
these thinly inhabited wild regions clearing one, two or three 
thousand pounds in one year. 

Limestone Plains, like Goulburn Plains, are a considerable 
height above the sea level ; they consist of one large plain, and 
three or four small ones. The Queanbeyan river runs through 
the whole, and soon after joins the Murrumbidgee. The town- 
ship of Queanbeyan is situated on a small plain on the banks 
of the river. Like all the townships in this quarter, there were 
but three or four houses in it, and those wooden ones. The 
country round was what was termed " within the boundaries," 
owing to that, most of the land on the river was purchased, 
and several farms were scattered here and. there, but at con- 
siderable distances from one another. 

The boundary of the colony only extended a short distance 
south of Queanbeyan. Beyond that, was an extensive territory 
unsurveyed, and occupied in some parts by ** squatters," the 
colonial term for the large stock holders beyond the boundary. 

If I remember rightly, we had a mail from Sydney once a 
week, which mail was carried on horseback, and from this 
further south to Maneroo Plains. 

All letters were sent to Sydney unpaid. In fact it was not 
possible to prepay letters, for there was no money ; nothing 
but orders on merchants in Sydney issued by the storekeepers 


and settlers. A storekeeper received payment in a settler's 
order, and if any change was wanted, would give a similar 
order on his agents in Sydney. But generally speaking, the 
purchaser preferred spending the balance due to him in some- 
thing else ; silver and copper money were almost unknown. 

Although the country was, as a rule, in a state of nature, 
some of the settlers' houses were built of stone, houses which 
would not disgrace England. Some of the smaller settlers' 
houses were wooden huts, roughly built of split timber, aiid 
roofed over with large sheets of bark, stripped from the biggest 
gum trees, which made excellent roofing. These were chiefly 
occupied by ** old hands," that is, emancipated convicts, and 
ticket-of-leave men, who had saved money enough to purchase 
small sections of land, and earned a livelihood by cultivating 
some of it, and keeping cattle. Solitary sheep stations, belong- 
ing to the larger establishments, were scattered over the district 
on the various creeks and chains of ponds. At this time there 
were comparatively few free people in the colony. 

The smaller settlers, by having a few cattle of their own, 
frequently used them as a cloak to cover their cattle stealing 
propensities, and increase their herds by any means most con- 
venient. They were well acquainted with every part of the 
bush for many miles round, and were enabled from that 
knowledge, to pick up stray calves, unbranded, belonging to 
the more wealthy settlers, and take them home, and mark them 
as their own, with but little fear of detection. They had 
various means of doing this work with impunity, well known to 
old residents. Many of these smaller settlers sold grog on the 
sly, and were always ready to receive stolen goods in payment. 
The shepherds, stockmen, and men employed on the farms, 
were mostly assigned servants, ** Government men," as they 
were called, and were generally too willing to connive and 
assist in these — to call it mildly — irregular transactions. 

But the settlers, the large stockholders, had often them- 
selves to blame. Some of these Government men would be 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. 1 839 TO 1 844. 5 1 

with a good master and have a Uberal ration allowed them and 
other indulgencies. Other settlers were despotic and tyrannical, 
would begrudge them the morsel they eat, barely allowing 
them sufficient on which to live, and if the men murmured, or 
ventured to be refractory, would send them to the nearest 
District Police Court, and get them sentenced to fifty, seventy, 
or one hundred lashes, and then returned to their service, 
burning with a spirit of revenge, and hardened more than ever 
in crime, and as a last resource would take to the bush, join 
others like themselves, and eventually end their miserable lives 
on the gallows. Many a bushranger was made so by tyrannical 
treatment ; and this class of masters would be the first to 
receive a visit from the bushrangers. When I was at the Cow 

Pasture river, Mr. the storekeeper, pointed out to me 

a colonial " swell " travelling in his gig, as one whom the bush- 
rangers had, a short time before, tied to a tree and flogged 
severely, for ill-using his assigned servants, but they did not 
rob him, although he had property on him. 

Robberies at this time were frequent. It was fortunate 
for the driver of a dray load of property if he could bring it safe 
from Sydney to this place. 

These robberies were generally ascribed to the bush- 
rangers, there being so frequently parties of them out. But 
bushrangers were not so often concerned in these delinquencies 
as people imagined. Many of the men employed on the sheep 
and cattle stations made a regular practice of robbing drays. 
It is scarcely worth while to detail their method of proceeding. 
Great profits were to be made at this time by keeping a general 
store, or public-house ; but the public-house was the best 
investment. The quantity of spirits sold was very great, and 
the profits on what they sold enormous. The license to retail 
spirits cost thirty pounds a year ; but a bottle of rum, after being 
well watered, would sell for eight shillings ; a bottle of ale or 
porter for three shillings, and a bottle of champagne for fifteen 


It would be interesting, and perhaps amusing, to know 
where, and how, that champagne was manufactured. 

Never, in any country in the world, could drinking be 
carried to such an excess as in New South Wales ; at this 
time nearly all the lower classes were drunkards, when they 
could obtain the means, and that was easily obtainable. The 
lowest wages were twenty-five pounds per annum and liberal 
rations. Men employed in splitting timber and fencing, and 
building huts, could earn ten shillings and more a day. As 
soon as a man received his wages he would join with two or 
three more comrades, and stay at the public-house till it was 
all gone. I have known a man spend twenty pounds in two 

At stated times in the year, all the men holding tickets of 
leave, would have to muster in their respective districts to 
answer to their names. After the business of the day was over, 
the business of drinking began ; a bush public-house would, at 
such times, be as disgusting a sight as could possibly be seen 
in any country in the world. Some dead drunk, and those who 
still retained their senses, fighting, swearing, and slanging one 
another. Yet there were some steady industrious men, ev6n 
amongst the " old hands." There were some amongst them 
whose acquaintance I made, I both liked and respected, men 
who were desirous to lead reputable lives. But how hard to do 
so amongst such surroundings ! Almost impossible. The great 
majority of these men could neither read nor write, and nothing 
that I ever saw, was done to instruct them. 

Here was a fine field for missionary enterprise, plenty of 
scope for their ministrations, and no troublesome language to 
learn. How is it that our great missionary societies came to 
neglect so suitable a field ? 

Much, in these last few pages, descriptive of the country 
and its social condition, will have little interest for home readers, 
but I anticipate it will interest the colonists of the present time. 

FIFTY YEARS AGO 1 839 TO 1 844. 53 

An extensive emigration had set into the colony about this 
time, and numbers of emigrants began to distribute themselves 
over the country. Nevertheless, their position was not at all 
to be envied. They were numerically inferior to the " old 
hands,'* who, as a rule, hated them, and of course the dislike 
was mutual. The immigrants prided themselves on being 
immigrants, and assumed, sometimes, a superiority over the 
" old hands," to which, in some cases, they were not entitled. 
I have known some, formerly convicts, I could place greater 
confidence in than in some immigrants. 

The ** old hands " used to say that the only difference 
between themselves and the ** jimmigrants" — as they always 
called them — was, that they had been found out, whilst the 
'* jimmigrants** had emigrated before they were found out; 
emigrated to escape being ** lagged." 

Every man who was transported was not necessarily a bad 
man. We have instances, even now, in the year 1889, of men 
being sentenced to penal servitude, and afterwards proved 
innocent. If that is the case now, what must it have been 
fifty years ago, and more than fifty years ago? How many 
innocent persons have been transported to Botany Bay? 
Fifty years ago men were sent there for offences which would 
now be punished by a fine, or two or three weeks in jail. — 
See Appendix £. 

I shall not go into particulars of the emigrants* position at 
this period of time, that would require more space than I care 
to occupy, but [it was, at times, a most unpleasant one, and 
often disastrous to his well-being. 

The nearest church or chapel to Queanbeyan was Goul- 
burn, about one hundred miles distant. Schools, there were 
none. An enclosed piece of ground, adjoining our Inn, was the 
principal burying ground, in which, at this time, seven or eight 
corpses were buried. There was no public cemetery, such as 
we are accustomed to. Some person dies and his friends 
select a place in which to bury his remains. As others died the 


friends usually selected the same place, otherwise burial was 
not restricted to any place. There was no consecrated ground 
then, nor, apparently, was such a thing thought of. There was 
no burial service read, not in my experience, no costly tomb- 
stone, or that other absurdity, a polished oak coffin, there 
seldom being any kind of coffin. There was no conventional 
mourning, no black crape, none of those convenient shams for 
simulating sorrow when it is not felt. There were none of 
those things. One, two, or more graves were frequently to be 
seen at most stock stations. Even at Queanbeyan a coffin was 
seldom made for the dead, and in the more remote parts 
scarcely ever. A sheet of bark was placed at the bottom of 
the grave, and another over the body, and then it was covered 
over with earth, without further ceremony. Occasionally 
solitary graves on the roadside were to be met with. Rough 
and uncultivated as the men generally were, these interments 
were, as a rule, conducted with decorous propriety, but not 


I once witnessed an Irish wake over a dead body, whilst 
in Queanbeyan, all the particulars of which are entered in my 
journal, but I don*t think they would interest many readers. 

In this part of the country I spent my first Christmas Day 
since leaving England. If eating and drinking might be 
regarded as a proper observance of that day, New South Wales 
might, with propriety, be called a most Christian country. But 
with all the eating and drinking I could not help calling to 
mind the happy Christmas Days I had spent at home, and 
contrast them with the present. My thoughts wandered far 
away from Limestone Plains. Nothing brings so forcibly to 
the mind of the emigrant, home, and its associations, as the 
recurrence of this day. And yet it is in other respects difficult 
to realize that it is Christmas Day, being, as it is, one of the 
hottest days of the year. The plum pudding and roast beef 
being eaten with open doors and windows ; and at this time the 
totally different state of society to which one has been accus- 

FIFTY YEARS AGO 1839 TO 1844. ^5 

During my stay of nine months at Queanbeyan, I gained 
a considerable insight into colonial customs and pursuits. I 
had plenty of spare time, and devoted it to making rambles 
into the surrounding country, and visiting the different stock 
stations. Store keeping was not like being behind the counter 
in England. 

• At this time Port Phillip was the absorbing topic in the 
conversation of travellers ; and stock-holders, with their live 
stock, were migrating in that direction from all parts of the 
older colony. . The Southern colony, at that time, had no other 
name than Port Phillip, on which Port was Melbourne, the 
newly-formed capital. The name Victoria was unknown. 
Australia Felix, Major Mitchel, the Surveyor General, had 
named it), and I think it is a pity it has not retained that name, 
for in fertility of soil, abundantly watered, no part of Australia 
can compare with it. 

So to Port Phillip I decided to go. Closed my engage- 
ment at the store, and arranging so that all my stock of cloth- 
ing and sundries should be sent on to Sydney. 'I had long 
since learned that coats and waistcoats were not suitable wear- 
ing apparel (except on the breezy Table Lands in winter), for 
bush travelling. I was to t^e a bushman now for some time, so 
donned the bushman's dress ; trousers and shirt, and over the 
shirt, a loose blue flannel shirt or blouse, exactly the form of 
the garibaldi shirt, brown leather shoes, and a cabbage tree hat, 
also a soft felt hat for bad weather when it came. These 
cabbage tree hats were very comfortable wear, mucfi like the 
broad-brimmed straw hats at home, but lighter, and more 
elastic. They were made of the cabbage tree palm, and were 
worn by everyone in Australia. Let it also be remembered, 
that the climate we had to contend with, was (with the excep- 
tion of that on the Table Lands), almost a perpetual spring 
and summer. There is no winter in Australia as we experience 
it in England. 

Previous to going to Port Phillip, I hired a horse, and made 
a two days' journey to Micalago and Manaroo Plains, lying east 


of the snowy mountains, as fine an extent of grazing country 
as any to be found in Australia, and abundantly watered from 
the snowy range. But all this part of the country was ** beyond 
the boundaries," and occupied only by ** squatters." My 
journey ended at a store kept by a bachelor friend. With him 
I stayed about two weeks. On my* return to Queanbeyan, I 
met at the inn, two new arrivals from the old country, who 
were collecting cattle to drive overland to Port Phillip, and J 
engaged with them at once. The cattle they were colfecting, 
were herded some twenty miles away, on Molonglo Pains, 
another fine extent of grazing ground. There were about two 
hundred head, and every day more coming to join them. And 
to Molonglo I went to look after them. I had very comfortable 
quarters in the house of a Scotsman and his wife, he being 
overseer of some sheep stations belonging to a Sydney merchant. 
But so little did my employers know about colonial cattle and 
their ways, they expected me to look after them without either 
horse or dog ; a thing unheard of in Australian cattle manage- 
ment, as it requires a good horse, and a good horseman, and a 
well-trained dog, to keep within bounds a mob of Australian 
cattle, some of which can gallop like a race horse. So I threw 
up this appointment, knowing well that I should have plenty 
of opportunities to get to Port Phillip, the country I so much 
wished to see. 

But before I left them, they persuaded me to go a distance 
of some 130 miles, all the way to Razor Back Mountain, well 
on the road to Sydney, furnishing me with a good horse and 
money to pay my expenses, for no other purpose than to take 
charge of a valuable pack bullock and bring him to Molonglo. 
A pack bullock was at this time of far more value than a team 
bullock. Here was another blunder on the part of my em- 
ployers, to expect a single bullock to be brought that long 
distance, and having in places to camp out, far from any habita- 
tion. But I had taken a fancy for the journey, and anticipated 
overcoming the difficulties which lay in the way. I made ttie 
journey to Razor Back, without any mishap, lodging with the 

FIFTY YEARS AGO — I 839 TO I 844. 57 

overseer and his wife at the station for the night. Here I was 
fortunate enough to meet, as I was hoping I should do, with a 
man I knew well, on his way to Molonglo, with a dray load of 
goods, and I got him to yoke my single bullock to his team, 
and in that way land him at his destination, which he did in 
perfect safety. The day after, I began my return journey to 
Molonglo, staying the night at an inn. The next day I made 
a long journey, but camped out this time in company with four 
men attached to three or four bullock drays, going to Sydney. 
That was a mistake on my part, for here I was robbed of all 
my money. The men and I got on very amicably together ; 
but as I lay sleeping in my blankets, one of them coolly took 
my trousers from under my head, emptied the pockets, and 
then returned the trousers to where he found them, which last 
act I saw him do. On pondering over the affair, and seeing 
that for once I had got into a den of thieves, and seeing the 
sort of men I had for companions, I came to the conclusion, to 
put up with tl;ie loss ; I knew I should never see my money 
again. At breakfast, I told the man that he had robbed me, 
and that I saw him do it. He answered as I expected he 
would ; he denied point blank that he had ever been near me, 
much more stolen anything from me. 

I found my horse, which had been tethered out where food 
was plentiful, saddled him, and started on my journey, but 
penniless, and reached Berrima towards evening. 

Berrima had then a few houses and a new Court House 
and jail, and a very good inn, for Berrima was the centre of an 
important Police District, and at this inn I purposed staying 
the night. I intended to tell the innkeeper the fix I was in, 
and did not doubt, on promising to remit the cost of my pro- 
viding as soon as I reached Molonglo, that I should get all my 
wants suppHed. For, strange as it may seem to English 
readers, and even colonial ones of to-day, an innkeeper in those 
days seldom or never refused food and shelter to a belated 
traveller, even if no payment was promised. They knew well 
the risks that attended travelling in the interior, and never ' 


knew how soon they themselves might be in the same pre- 
dicament. Let a man give his name, and the name of his 
employer, and that was enough. Every settler was well-known 
to the innkeepers for hundreds of miles. Arriving at the inn, 
who should I see standing at the door but a man I had long 
known in Queanbeyan, Cooper by name, his real name. We 
recognised each other at once, I telling him the fix I was in. 
"Never mind," said Cooper, "I will find you all that you 
require, both for yourself and horse, and money to go away with 
in the morning." And Cooper did so. I had the best the inn 
could supply, and money to carry me on my journey. Before 
we parted in the morning, I said to Cooper: " How am I to 
repay you what you have so freely lent to me? I am going to 
Port Phillip, and in all probability we shall never see each 
other again." ** Don't talk," said Cooper, ** about paying 
what I have given, not lent to you, you are an old friend of 
mine, and I like you, and am pleased to have the chance of 
helping you; I wish you well, and a pleasant journey;" and so 
we parted. 

And yet Cooper, although still young, was transported for 
seven years to Botany Bay for night poaching, but was at this 
time free. When I knew him in Queanbeyan, I once said to 
him: ** Cooper, I wonder a man like you, fond as you were of 
poaching, in the old country, do not take your gun and range 
about the forest here, where game is plentiful, and there are no 
game laws to trouble you." His answer was characteristic of 
a poacher. ** Oh, no! I care nothing about following game 
here. There are here no game laws I know, nor mantraps, 
and spring guns, which I was well acquainted with in the old 
country, and what is more, no gamekeepers. No ! There is 
no devilment in it now." 

On the third day after leaving Berrima I reached Molonglp 
Plains; there was a Molonglo township, but no houses that I 

After seeing the pack bullock safely delivered, I and my 
employers parted company, and on friendly terms. 



Grossing the Murrumbidgee and Murray Rivers, and make a temporary 
camp on the Yackondandah — Thence to Melbourne. 


ilROM Molonglo, I went to Queanbeyan, where I had 
' always free quarters, and it had this advantage also; 
being on one of the main roads of the colony over which 
were continually passing herds of cattle and flocks of sheep^ 
on their way to Port Phillip, this place was one of their 
camping grounds. 

In a day or two there were two travelling parties with 
stock, and both anxious to engage help. One of them had 
1500 head of cattle, about 100 horses, and 2000 sheep, and 
some twenty men, besides bullock drays. I could have been 
taken on at once by this party ; but the men were a rough lot* 
The other party was a small one ; some five or six men, and a 
Scotch doctor as their overseer, going with 3000 sheep or 
more. I at once engaged with them at £1 per week, and all 
found, and never had I cause to regret it. 

We were about five months doing the journey, owing to 
making so many long stoppages. All the men were assigned 
servants, that is, convicts, except the doctor and myself; but 
their employer was a kind-hearted man, and treated them welL 
They were well clothed, and had all the indulgences of free 
men, except receiving wages ; particularly what the men liked, 
an unlimited supply of tobacco. We had two drays loaded 
with flour and wheat, and a steel mill to grind it, should it be 


necessary. We had excellent potatoes, grown on Maneroo 
Plains, from whence the stock came ; casks of salt beef, tea 
and sugar in abundance, cooking utensils, and a good supply 
of carbines and ball cartridge, and several dogs. We had also 
one or two pairs of blankets each, and a bed tick filled with dry 
gum tree leaves (the Eucalyptus) and an excellent bed it was, 
and one we could renew at any time, there always being plenty 
of fallen leaves lying about. These leaves have a strong 
aromatic scent. We had also a tent which would accommo- 
date two comfortably, and on accasion three. The c|rays also 
having long tarpaulins reaching to the ground, under the dray 
was a fair shelter, and at night-time a log of wood, covered 
with something soft, served for a pillar; horsemen, when 
travelling, usually made the saddle serve the same purpose. 

On the following morning, we began the journey to the 
place I was so anxious to see, camping the first night on Yass 
Plains. We travelled at an easy rate on account of the sheep, 
and in a few days reached Jugiong creek, where we first 
obtained a sight of the Murrumbidgee River, which at this 
place is a rapid stream fringed with ca-su-a-ring, or swamp oak, 
with wide alluvial flats, scattered over which were noble gum 
trees (eucalyptus). These swamp oaks are very picturesque, 
having much the appearance of a pine tree, but the timber, in 
hardness and closeness of grain, resembles the oak. The 
ca-su-a-ring follow the river until its confluence with the 

It is a singular feature of many of the rivers of Australia, 
that they have trees peculiar to their several streams, and to 
no other. This peculiarity I have frequently noticed. 

I may as well state here how we conducted our camping 
operations. As near as I can remember, it was the early 
spring of 1840 (for my journal of 1845 has, unfortunately, very 
few dates), when we commenced our journey. Grass was 
abundant, the natural grasses of the country, everywhere green 
and beautiful, so we had no difficulty as regards food for the 

FIFTY YEARS AGO 1 839 TO 1 844. 6 1 

stock. The road, all the way to Port Phillip, was a wide and 

well-beaten track, but a bush-road only. Rivers and gullies 

and deep beds of creeks, had to be crossed in whatever way we 

found practicable. We always encamped for the night where 

there was food and water, making easy stages, about twelve 

or fourteen miles a day, sometimes more, sometimes less. On 
arriving at our camping ground, the sheep would be allowed to 
spread out and feed. The bullocks would be unyoked, some of 
them hobbled in the fore feet, one or two having a bell round 
their necks, and allowed to feed also. Our cook would make a 
fire of the dead wood lying about, of which there was always 
plenty. One man would take charge of the sheep, whilst the 
rest of us would cut down sapling gum trees, and with them 
make a temporary bough yard. Into this yard the sheep were 
driven at night, and although it was but a slight fence, they 
seldom left it, particularly after we had been some time on the 
road. After all this work was completed, our supper was made 
ready and eaten, and after the usual yarns and smoking, we 
would lay down our beds in different places, some outside the 
bough yard, and others near the drays, the dogs, as a matter 
of course, lying anywhere, and so we passed the night. All 
these arrangements had to be carried out, mainly on account of 
the dingoes or native dogs, which, if allowed to rush into the 
sheep-fold, would have scattered the sheep for miles, and in 
other ways committed terrible havoc among them. When it 
rained, which it seldom did, we had to make temporary 
shelters of sheets of bark, lay our mattresses on the top of 
broken boughs, or on sheets of bark, and generally we remained 
at that station, two, three, or more days, until the rain had 
passed over. Old bushmen know well how to meet these con- 
tingencies. Sometimes we would have white frosts in the 
night, and on the following morning our blankets would be 
covered with frost. Yet the days following these frosts were 
sure to be bright, sunny, and cloudless, and an hour after sun- 
rise it would be a pleasant summer's morning. Breakfast 
would be got ready and despatched, after which, the sheep 


with two men would travel on ; whilst we who were left behind 
would dry, or partially dry, the bedding in the sunshine, pack 
them on the drays, and follow the sheep. 

We often hear in England of the disastrous consequences 
resulting from sleeping in damp beds. I have known when we 
have had a continuance of rainy weather, our bedding would 
never be dry. That was an uncomfortable time, but never, so 
far as I know, left behind any bad effects. 

We had plenty to eat, plenty of salt beef, and often fresh 
mutton, bought at the stations we passed. Plenty of tea, 
which we used lavishly whenever we had the opportunity to 
make it. Our bread was " damper," the name given to the 
bread used by travellers, when made in the bush. Thin cakes, 
baked on the top of the hot charcoal beaten down flat for the 
purpose. No yeast or barm was wanted, only a little salt. 
And ** damper," when made from colonial wheat, was the 
sweetest bread I ever ate, unless it was Spanish bread, which, 
many years after this time, I have eaten in Southern Spain. 
And it is made from similar wheat, and made in much the 
same way. 

Our drays were travelling stores, and contained, except 
fresh meat, everything that we wanted. 

Bushmen are great tea-drinkers, and no old bushman will 
dispense with his tea if possible to obtain it, and we were, 
when encamped, always making and drinking tea. 

I enjoyed the life we led uncommonly, and all the journey 
was in excellent health and spirits. Nearly every day would 
bring us to a fresh scene. And the freedom and independence 
of such a life, the total absence of carking care, and the 
almost daily succession of bright skies and cheering sunshine, 
made the journey thoroughly enjoyable by all of us. 

After this digression, we will now proceed on our journey. 

On leaving Jugiong creek we travelled three or four miles 
on the alluvial flats of the river, which are here only narrow ; 
then the river takes a wide sweep to the left ; to cut off this 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. — 1 839 TO 1 844. 63 

bend of the river, the road takes a new direction (leaving it 
on our left) passing over some broken ranges. The soil on 
these ranges is hard and gravelly, and the gum trees grpwing 
on them are stunted, and seem as if they had a hard struggle 
to live, and there was no improvement until we again neared 
the river. Early in the day of our arriving there, the gradual 
descent of the road showed that we were once more going to 
see the Murrumbidgee. The stunted and miserable gum trees 
began to disappear and give place to the noble looking trees 
growing on the flats of the river. 

These flats, in some places, might be as much as one or two 
miles wide, bounded by a mountainous range of hills. The 
time of the year would be about the month of August, 1840, 
and early in spring. The grass on the river flats was most 
luxuriant, and the gum trees growing on them were so grouped 
as to give the whole a close resemblance to an English park. 

Continuing our journey on the borders of these flats four 
or five miles, we came in sight of the river, now a fine broad 
and rapid stream, with a gravelly bottom, when we encamped 
for the night, close to what was the township of Gundagai. 
On the banks of the river, on the roadside, was a public- 
house, such an one as is usually seen in the interior, built of 
split timber, and roofed with bark. And this was the only 
house to be seen in Gundagai. It was one amongst the very 
few stationed on the line of route to Port Phillip, and no 
situation could be better for the sale of "drink," as parties were 
often detained here with stock, on account of a sudden rise in 
the river, so the men had little else to do but spend their time 
and money in ** drink." 

All was life and bustle on the river banks, there being four 
more parties with stock besides ourselves, and all bound for 
Port Phillip. The days, when practicable, would be spent in 
swimming the stock over, and the nights, with most of them, 
in carousing at the public-house. Of course, there was no 
bridge, nor boat of any kind. The following day we tried to 
force the sheep to swim over, but found that to be impossible. 


SO we moved about two miles down the river, to where it 
spreads out into a broad gravelly bed, with two or three small 
islands on which grew the graceful swamp oak. One of these 
islands was a larger one and nothing but a bed of gravel and 
boulder stones. To this island we decided to make a bridge ; 
cross the sheep over to it, then break down the bridge and 
force them to cross the stream between it and the opposite 
bank. The river in its windings had approached close to a 
point of the range of hills which border it. At the foot of this 
range we encamped until we had completed our task, and a 
very picturesque place it was. We soon had a number of the 
natives (blacks) join us, and we persuaded them to help us to 
cut logs and strip bark for the making of our bridge. I had 
hitherto seen but few of the blacks until I saw these, which 
were of a far superior class to those I had previously seen. 
They were strong, active, and well-made, and degeneration 
from contact with the white man was scarcely perceptible ; but 
I have no doubt that, long, long ago, their degeneration is as 
complete as it is in other parts of the colony, if they are not, as 
a race, totally extinct. What we call civilization has been no 
boon to the black natives of Australia, and to their mind must 
be associated with gunpowder, poison, hunger, disease, and 

1 spent my time very pleasantly here. Our bridge took us 
a whole week to make, and when made, owing to a sudden rise 
in the river, the greater part was swept away in one night, and 
we had nearly all our work to do over again. Making our 
bridge was rather severe work, owing to having to stand some- 
times up to the waist in the water, which was very cold, and 
running with a very strong current and clear as the clearest 
' crystal, the melted snow from the snowy range. No one of 
our party could stand the cold water better than our overseer, 
the doctor ; but he was no gentleman overlooker, but a 
strongly-built man, more after the type of a young robust 
farmer in the old country, and worked, on an emergency, like 
any other man, and none worked harder. 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. 1 839 TO 1 844. 65 

Although SO far in the interior, and it was far 'then, the 
banks of the river were alive with the bustle and stir of parties 
continually arriving from the north with stock, and the weather 
was lovely all the time we stayed here, being a continual 
succession of sunny days ; and the open forest ground in the 
vicinity of the river echoed with the strange notes of the 
numerous birds, so numerous that it seemed as if they had 
migrated from every part of Australia, to make this place their 
home. Night wore .the same cheerful aspect. The moon and 
the stars shining clear and bright, made the scene as interesting 
as in the day-time. 

We slept out in the open air, but had great log fires 
burning, round which we sat or lay down, talking over the 
occurrences of the day and other matters, smoking our pipes, 
and drinking tea, until we retired to our resting places. 

Numerous fires were to be seen scattered over the rich 
flats of the river, the watch fires of the men encamped with 
stock, or the fires of the many natives making this their 
temporary abode. Sometimes some of our men would take a 
stroll to these different parties to hear what news they had to 
tell, &c. But my chief pleasure consisted in visiting the native 
encampments. I had seen so little of them previously to this, 
that everything respecting them amused and interested me. 

One night in particular, I had the opportunity of seeing 
that which I much wished to see — a grand corroboree, or native 
dance. This word corroboree is pronounced like the English 
word ** corroborate." It took place at night about two miles 
from our camp ; all the white fellows in the neighbourhood were 
there to witness it, and a very novel and extraordinary sight it 
was. Taking place, as these corroborees always do, in the 
night-time, when all nature is still, for even if the days have 
been stormy, the nights are almost always calm, makes the 
performances more interesting. 

The moon shone brightly, and numerous fires (small 
in size), formed a line in front of the performers, across which 


line the white spectators never intruded. The singing of the 
women (who are out of sight), formed the orchestra of this 
primitive theatre ; who also beat time with sticks on out- 
stretched skins. All this, combined with the wonderful pre- 
cision and regularity of movement in the various figures of 
the dance, seldom fails to interest all lookers on. 

I had seen one corroboree before, and have seen several 
since, but none ever pleased me so much as this one, owing 
chiefly to the great number of those taking part in it, for I 
should estimate there would be near three hundred of them. — 
Far further particulars sec Appendix F, 

After some delay, and the loss of a few sheep, carried 
away by the stream and drowned, which was a great boon to 
the black fellows, for they made use of them for food, we 
crossed the river and encamped on the opposite side. We 
were not sorry to get that troublesome business over. Next 
day we moved on in the usual quiet way, for the space of two 
days, near the bank of the river, the road then diverged to the 
left, bringing us into an extent of flat country, which preserves 
that character nearly all the way to the Murray river, a 
distance said to be 140 miles from the Murrumbidgee.* 

On taking leave of the latter river, I saw a pair of black 
swans floating on the stream, the first I had seen in their wild 

Nothing of any importance occurred on this part of our 
journey until arrived on the 'Murray. Not a single cattle or 
sheep station or human habitation did we see on our route. 
There was one station on our right called Kiamba, a native 
name, but so far off as to be invisible to us. The river Murray, 
although wider than the Murrumbidgee, I did not like so well. 
There is a great deal of good land on its banks, and similar 
groups of fine old gum trees, but no swamp oaks, which added 
much to the beauty of the Murrumbidgee. 

* The distance, from place to place, mentioned in this journal, is only approximately 
correct. The distances Ironi one place to another in the settled parts of the 
older colony are the same, the writer having no means of verifying them. They 
are given from memory. The distances of places " beyond the bomidary," are 
the estimates of travellers only, as these distances had never been measured. 



FIFTY YEABS AGO. 1 839 TO 1 844. 67 

Here we again prepared for a stay of some time, having 
again to go through the tedious labour of crossing the sheep. 

On the bank of the river was a public-house and store, 
both under one roof, where rum, or the stuff that was called 
rum, could be purchased for ten shillings a bottle. He was a 
decent old fellow, the man who kept it, there being himself, 
his wife, and daughter. The only neighbours they had in this 
lonely place, independently of the traffic on the road, were the 
men attached to a few cattle stations in the neighbourhood, 
and a few Mounted Police stationed about a mile away, lower 
down the river. Any person not acquainted with the interior, 
would imagine such a place would never prove very profitable 
to a grog seller, yet the contrary was the case, and this man 
realized a large fortune. The quantity of liquors lie sold was 
very great, and the profits on them enormous. Everything 


had to be brought from Sydney by bullock drays, a distance 
of about 400 miles. I have heard that he paid as much as 
/70 a ton for carriage, and from my experience of the cost of 
carriage from Sydney to Limestone Plains I could quite 
believe it. The house was built of the usual split timber, and 
roofed with great sheets of bark, and divided into five or six 
rooms, which description will serve for most bush public- 

Should a traveller want accommodation, he would be 
charged two shillings and sixpence a meal, which meal would 
consist of salt beef, damper and tea. Seldom was there any 
variation in the diet, unless, as old bush-men used to say, for 
varieties' sake it might be, tea, damper and salt beef. Some- 
times he might get fresh meat, but not often. When a beast 
was killed, the meat would be salted down, except that small 
portion which would keep fresh for present use. 

The beds were on stretchers, which were almost universally 
in use in these places. Sometimes five or six in one small 
room, according as circumstances necessitated, a straw mattress 
and blankets, no sheets ; no such luxury as wash basins. 


Travellers, on rising in the morning, would wash in a bucket , 
or take a towel and go down to the river. For this bed-room 
accommodation, they would have to pay two shillings and 
sixpence more. 

I have seen ten shillings paid here for one pound of very 
inferior tobacco, similar to what would be sold in Sydney for 
eighteen pence, and dear at that price, even there ; for there 
was little or no duty upon it. I paid myself, sixpence, for a 
common short clay pipe, and the same sum for a sheet of 
writing paper, on which to write a letter to a friend in Sydney. 

There was a mail from Sydney to Melbourne, carried on 
horseback, once a week, or supposed to be. 

The ground on which was located this solitary public 
house, forms, now, I believe, the township of Albury, a town- 
ship, at this time, 1889, of considerable importance, being on 
the direct line of railway from Sydney to Melbourne. 

Here, as at the Murrumbidgee, large herds of cattle were 
continually arriving from the North, on their journey to Port 

How long we stayed here I cannot remember, but it must 
have been three weeks at least. 

We made our encampment about two miles from the public 
house, and fed the sheep on the ranges behind the camp, the 
ground for two or three miles on each side of the road being 
unoccupied by anyone. No cattle or sheep stations could be 
formed near the road, on account of the traffic. 

We first of all rested a few days in order to give the sheep 
the advantage of a rest, and of food, which was plentiful. 
Until the time came, when we must make an attempt to get 
them over the river, we had an idle time of it, which leisure 
we spent in various walys. We caught fish in the river by the 
help of hooks and lines, bought at the store. One day, one of 
our men thought l^e would try and shoot some wild ducks,, 
disporting on the river. Making his way through some tall 

'■ '« i^i -^^mrn'mtm-m^mm^mmammmmm I ■■■ i atm^mmmm^ 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. — 1 839 TO 1 844. 69 

reeds, growing on the margin of the banks, up jumped a large 
black snake, balancing itself on its tail and facing him, and 
only two or three yards distant. There was no time to lose, 
for a snake can spring on to a man with the velocity of light- 
ning, and the black snake's sting is deadly, so he fired at it's 
head, shattered it to pieces, and of course the ducks flew away, 
and he brought the snake to camp. We had a Murray river 
black-fellow staying with us, and the snake was given to him, 
and he roasted and eat it, and so generous was he, that he 
asked us to partake of some, but we declined. Yet the snake 
when cooked looked very nice, and some white fellows who 
have eaten such, say that it is nice eating. That was one of 
the incidents which happened during our stay on the Murray. 

After the sheep were rested, our next business was to get 
them over the river. We tried every means we could to make 
them swim over, kept them without water for a whole day,' 
bringing them towards evening, and forcing them, by the help 
of dogs, into the river, but all our efforts were in vain, they 
would rush into the water but would not swim over. 
There was a boat belonging the public-house, made out of 
an immense hollow tree, and worked across from one 
side of the river to the other by means of a rope, made of 
the green hide of bullocks. That was the only means at that 
time, of ferrying over goods and passengers, and we were 
advised to ferry over the sheep, and all our goods and chattels 
by the same means. Which we did. The boat would hold 
thirty sheep packed close together, and I think it must have 
taken us a week or more to ferry over our flock of upwards 
of 3,000. But we got them over at last. That night we 
camped on the bank of the river. Our camping ground must 
have been at, or near, where stands the present township of 
Wodonga. The doctor, our overseer, had always hitherto 
been very quiet, very reserved, having little to say himself, 
content with listening to our talk, but this night, he and I 
became quite familiar, and had the longest chat together since 
I joined, and this familiarity and friendliness continued to the 


end. In the morning, the sheep and one of the drays followed 
the main road, but the doctor and I stayed behind to try and 
help over the river one of our men, left behind on the opposite 
bank. For after we had safely crossed over, the rope, by which 
the boat was ferried, by some means broke, and the boat drifted 
down the river, and so the man was unable to cross. He 
could not swim, but a herd of cattle having to cross that morn- 
ing, he joined it, and seizing hold of the tail of a bullock, was 
brought safely to our side, an experiment I once tried myself. 
It must be remembered, that lightly clothed as we were, and 
in this warm climate, and the log fires we had, a wetting was 
thought nothing of, but was felt to be an enjoyment rather than 

We followed the main road for about four miles, after 

which, we altered our course, leaving the road on our right. 

' Our object in doing so, was to make an encampment in a place 

which had been pointed out to us, and there wait and rest the 

live stock, until we should hear from the owner of them. 

On the third day we entered a very pleasant valley, 
through which ran a clear rapid stream, emptying itself into 
the Murray. This stream was called the Yackond^ndah. 

Some of the " old hands " in the neighbourhood used to 
call it the ** Jacky Dandy," words gathered from an old song, 
which used to be familiar to them in their younger days. We 
continued our course up the valley, until near the head waters 
of the stream, and we then formed an encampment, at which 
place we stayed nearly eight weeks. With the exception of a 
sheep station much lower down, the valley was wholly un- 
occupied. Narrow alluvial flats, free from trees, formed the 
bed of the valley, these flats being bounded by rocky 
mountainous hills. Grass for the stock was plentiful, both in 
the valley and on the mountain ranges, and the little rapid 
stream supplied us with water, so necessary in this country. 

I have not hitherto said anything about my companions, 
what sort of men they were, and if their companionship was 

FIFTY YEABS AGO. — 1 839 TO 1 844. 7 1 

pleasant. But here I shall do so. We were six in number. 
There being four assigned servants, the doctor, and myself ; 
and although these four were convicts, I never in all my travels 
in Australia, met w'Ch four men of their class I liked better. 
They were very quiet fellows, and 1 don't remember ever 
having with them an unpleasant word. But much of this 
agreeable state of things was due to our overseer, the doctor, 
whose name, as well as I can remember was M'Keachie. He 
was a shrewd, sensible, kind-hearted man ; had no " stuck- 
uppedness " about him, no " bounce," to use a colonial term, 
and never expected the men to do an unreasonable thing. 
There was no work done that he did not take his share in 
helping to do, and he was always kind and considerate to the 
men, who all liked him. 

Our bullock driver was an Irishman, for we had only one 
bullock dray at this time, the other one being left behind at 
the Murray river. He had been transported owing to having 
been concerned in Ribbonism. He was a very intelligent fellow, 
and possessed of an uncommonly good-humoured face. His 
conversation was lively, and abounded in that ready wit, so 
characteristic of his countrymen. His name was Jack Fannon, 
and was generally called Jack. 

Two others were Londoners, transported from that city, 
what for, I don't remember. One went by f he name of Stewart, 
and the other was called ** Towny," a name generally given to 

The fourth man was an Irishman, from the North of 
Ireland, and always went by the name of ** Tanteragee," his 
native place. 

Our overseer, as I have said before, was a Scotsman, and 
a Doctor, not of Divinity, but of Medicine, and I was always 
called ** Yorky," the name generally given to all Yorkshiremen. 

Small as our society was, our predilections, and diversity 
of opinions, soon classed us into two parties. The doctor, 
bullock driver, and myself, formed one, and the three others, 
the other. 


Our camp was formed on the banks of the Yackondjijidah, 
a rapid stream of the clearest water, and surrounded on all 
sides by high mountainous hills. The soil was a black sandy 
one, and huge blocks of granite were scattered in and near 
the bed of the creek, as these streams are always called by the 
colonists. Great quantities of beautiful moss, clothed some 
of these stones near the water's edge, and a greater variety of 
flowering bushes grew on the rocky ranges, than I had seen 

A most singular and beautiful acacia grew on the banks 
of the creek. Tanteragee, who was one of the men having 
charge of the sheep, brought a sprig of it to our camp, as a 
thing of beauty worth our inspection. It showed that this 
man had some poetry in his soul, although he was a convict. 
The plant was an evergreen bush,, about eight feet in height, 
the leaves of a bright pea-green, and at this time bore a pro- 
fusion of yellow flowers, and of the most delightful fragrance. 
I never saw this particular acacia in all my travels in Australia 
in any other locality except on the banks of this creek, and on 
the banks of the B^rwajee creek, close adjoining, but on the 
other side of the dividing range. The B^rwajee emptying 
itself into the Ovens river. I much wished to get some seeds 
of this acacia, and although before we left the place the flowers 
had disappeared, and seed pods had formed, yet the seeds 
were far from being ripe, which I much regretted. 

One of the Londoners and Tanteragee shepherded the 
sheep, the other Londoner was cook, whilst the doctor, 
bullock driver, and myself, stayed at the camp, employing 
our time in making things snug and comfortable. 

First, we had to cut down sapling gum trees, in order to 
make a strong and substantial bough yard for folding the 
sheep at night, and there being great numbers of stringy bark 
gums growing on the ranges, a tree which grows as straight as 
a larch, we had no difficulty in providing ourselves with large 
sheets of bark for making ** gunyahs," the name given by the 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. 1 839 TO 1 844. 73 

blacks to their temporary habitation, J which sheltered us well 
in all weathers. 

Then we fixed up a shed over the fire to keep out the rain, 
so that we could at any time bake bread in the ashes. Don't 
let the English reader imagine that this bread was dirty owing 
to being baked in the ashes. When taken out of the ashes 
and brushed it was perfectly clean. 

Our stock of flour was beginning to get very small, but as 
we happened to have some bags of seed wheat on the dray, 
and also a steel mill, articles which it was intended we should 
utilize, after forming a new permanent station in the Port 
Phillip district, we were not at a loss for flour long. We cut 
down a tree, close to our camp, and on the stump fixed the 
mill, with which we could grind, in about an hour, as much as 
we required for the day, using a sieve to take out the rough 

About 10 miles distant, was a small steam called the little 
river, which flowed down a wide valley. I believe this is the 
Kiewa river of the maps, but the whole level flats of this valley 
were a succession of beautiful meadows, and apparently of 
great extent. On this river was a cattle station, the owner of 
which lived there. The men at this station gave us a cow to 
milk, and used to ride over and pay us a visit occasionally, 
particularly on Sundays. It must be remembered, all stock- 
men in charge of cattle are mounted. They seldom, if ever, 
came empty handed. Sometimes they would bring butter or 
fresh beef, at other times vegetables. On getting the cow, we 
made a temporary stock -yard, in which to milk her, but she 
was very quiet, which is not usually the case with bush cattle. 

After all these conveniences were completed, the party I 
belonged to had little or nothing to do, but grinding at the mill 
none of the men liked, so we agreed amongst ourselves that if 
I would do the grinding and milk the cow, I should be exempt 

t By the Fort Phillip blacks this kind of temporary shelter was called a-mia-mi. 


from all other work. To this arrangement I readily gave con- 
sent, not having any objection to grinding. There was a calf 
with the cow, the calf being kept in the stockyard all day, 
whilst its mother was out feeding, when she would be 
out of sight, the calf being in my charge, I used to take pity 
on him and let him out also, for he was a good size, and could 
eat grass. But the villain gave me trouble enough sometimes, 
as he would scent his mother and bolt away, with myself and 
the rest at the camp in full chase after him. I often threatened 
he should never go out any more, and as often repented. At 
last, one day he got clear away together with his mother, and 
it was out of my power to find him. So we lost our cow, and 
what was worse, lost our supply of milk, a loss which the men 
did not like. The cow made her way to her own station, as 
cattle always wilLdo. But the stockmen at the station, find- 
ing out our loss, brought us another, which we managed to 
keep possession of until our departure. 

The doctor's principal amusement was smoking his pipe 
and taking a walk occasionally to the cattle station. Fannon, 
the bullock driver, and I, would amuse ourselves with practis- 
ing swimming in a large rocky water hole in the bed of the 
creek, or in taking a ramble in the bush together in search of 
game, wild ducks, and such like. Jack was an amusing com- 
panion, and in intelligence, far in advance of his class. When 
in a serious mood, he was very fond of discoursing on politics 
or history. But no subject came amiss to him. Sometimes 
he would talk of his friends in Ireland, and how much he 
would like to see them once more, and the improbability of his 
ever doing so, was a great trouble to him, for his sentence of 
transportation was for life. 

There is not a doubt that the sentence of transportation 
for life has made many a man desperate and indifferent alike 
to reformation, or the consequence of an opposite line of 

At night, when seated round our log fire. Jack would tell 
us of the life he used to lead in Ireland ; of his school-days, 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. — 1 839 TO 1 844. 75 

and his description of an Irish village school, was most comical, 
and amused the doctor as much as it did myself ; and then his 
strange experiences as a member of a Ribbon society ; and how, 
eventually, it ended in his transportation for life, to Botany Bay. 
That life sentence had for ever after been a curse and a blight 
upon his future. ** If," said he, "they had transported me for 
a term of years, I would not have complained, but for life — " 
and here he would break down for a time, for Jack was too fall 
of humour to repine long. 

No one could help believing all he said, for it was contrary 
to his nature to dissemble, and with us there was no necessity 
for him to do so. 

In other respects, Jack was in comfortable circumstances, 
and happy, for he was a great favourite with his employer, and 
generously treated by him. 

One day we scrambled to the top of the highest mountain 
near us, and could distinctly see in the distance the Warragong 
Mountains, the topmost peaks covered with snow, and the 
smoke of several blacks' fires not a great distance from where 
we were. 

During all our journey we had never seen either a book or 
a newspaper, but it was no unusual thing in those days to be 
many months and not see either the one or the other. But at 
last the doctor was fortunate enough to find a book at the 
cattle station ; got the loan of it, and brought it to our camp. 
The arrival of this book was a perfect god-send to all of us. It 
was the life of Mary Queen of.Scots, by a Mr. Mackay, and a 
clever and masterly defence it was of that unfortunate queen. 
I was appointed to read it aloud to the company at night, our 
only light being that given by a piece of twisted rag stuffed 
into an old pint tin, filled with the fat skimmings of our meat 

There were no candles, or lamps, then, on the Yackon- 
d^ndah. Our audience were not content with once reading of 
this book, but partly owing to its being the only thing we had 


to read, and more on account of the interest which it excited, 
for the men seemed never to tire of it, it was read over and 
over again, and with endless discussion about its contents. 

What a picture we and our surroundings would have made 
on these reading nights ! And no individual or habitation 
nearer to us than ten miles, and sometimes all so still and 
quiet. Not a sound to be heard but our own voices, or the 
occasional croaking of a frog, the playful gambols of opossums 
in the gum trees, and the rushing rapid waters of the 

With the exception of Jack Fannon, none of these men 
could read or write, but all had heard something relative to 
Mary Queen of Scots. The narrative was well written, and 
when we came to the close, which described her tragical end, 
then did the general interest reach its climax, and I am afraid 
if ** good " Queen Bess could have made her appearance 
amongst us, she would have had an unpleasant reception, for 
all the old histories make Elizabeth the chief actor in the 
murder of Mary. But in the discussions we had upon the 
contents of the book, our shrewd doctor had a word to say in 
defence of Elizabeth, who, he said, being the Head of the 
State, on her was cast all the odium of Mary's execution. But 
Mary, he said, " would never have lost her life if it had not 
been for the power behind the throne, the nobility, and Court 
favourites of the time, who, under pretence of reforming 
religion, had plundered the Church, and appropriated the lands 
and wealth belonging to it. And Mary, being a Roman 
Catholic, had she been permitted to reign, their ill-gotten 
gains might have been in peril. That danger, they were 
determined should never happen. They would have sacrificed 
twenty Marys rather than lose their hold of their ill-gotten 

These are, as near as I can recollect, the sentiments of 
the doctor, on this much-disputed historical problem. As to 
the men, neither knowing nor caring for what goes by the name 

FIFTY YEARS AGO — 1 839 TO 1 844. ^^ 

of Political Expediency, they were enthusiastic in favour of 
Mary, more especially Jack Fannon, as he might with reason 
be expected to be, being a zealous Catholic, but very far from 
being a bigoted one. 

Such was the nature of the judgment passed upon the 
tragical history of Mary Queen of Scots, by six wanderers, 
encamped in the valley of the Yackond^ndah, in a far off 
country, unknown and unheard of in her time, and two hundred 
and fifty odd years after the event. 

This book was the only bit of reading we had the good 
fortune to meet with, until our arrival in Melbourne. 

Once we had rain for three days in succession, and heavy 
rain, and the pleasant musical ripple of the Yackond^ndah 
was changed ii^to the rush of a mountain torrent, and threatened 
to flood us out of our camp, but we were well prepared for it, 
having made everything secure, and a good roof overhead. It 
was the spring-time of the year, verging on towards summer, 
the climate was very pleasant, not too hot, and all vegetation 

Much as I liked our temporary residence, I was beginning 
to be tired of staying so long in one place. I wanted to see 
some fresh scenes, and our time for leaving was approaching 
apace. A few days before we did leave, one of the men at the 
cattle station brought us word that there was a tribe of blacks 
within a few miles of us, and warned us to keep a sharp look 
out. This piece of news furnished us with a fresh topic for 
conversation, and set us all at work cleaning our old muskets 
and carbines, and making ball cartridge, as we had used up 
nearly all our stock. Various were the plans devised to guard 
against a hostile attack, and the probable consequences in case 
such a thing should happen. At any rate, it was agreed we 
should stand a poor chance in our bark gunyah. The cattle 
station hut was strongly built of thick slabs of wood, and had 
port holes cut out on every side of it, v^hich was the case with every 
hut in this part of the colony at this time. If such a protection 


was insufficient, as Was sometimes the case, what chances 
should we have. So it was decided we should build a square 
fort of logs, in a place chosen by the common consent of all, 
owing to its good position, to which we could make a retreat 
in case of attack, but we had scarcely got three logs cut for it, 
when who should make an appearance at our camp but Mr. 
Livingstone, the owner of the stock, along with the dray we 
had left behind at the Murray, and a bullock driver, a stranger 
to me, and two horses ; and he gave orders for us to break up 
our camp, and commence the march to the King river, on our 
way to Port Phillip. 

This was the first time I had seen Mr. Livingstone, and 
his kindly manner to the men, and to all of us, impressed me 
greatly in his favour. 

Habit is truely second nature, and so accustomed had I 
become to this secluded spot, and so many pleasant days had 
I spent in it, I could not help regretting having to leave 
it, and I believe that was the general feeling with us all. — 
See Appendix G. 

The next day we broke up our camp, and resumed our 
journey, crossing over the dividing range which separates the 
Yackond^ndah, from the B^rwajee creek, and again camped 
for the night. 

In due time we reached the Ovens River, which, being a 
comparatively small and shallow steam, compared with the 
Murray, we crossed without difficulty. I remember that the 
banks of the Ovens consisted of thick shrubs, in which dis- 
ported themselves, great numbers of bell-birds, and occasionally 
a coachman -bird was to be heard. 

The bell -bird, has a note like the tinkling of small bells ; 
and the coachman-bird, a note like the loud crack of a whip. 
I had' never, to my recollection, heard these birds before, but 
frequently after this time, I have heard with delight the bell- 
bird's note, always a pleasant sound to thirsty travellers, for 
where the bell-bird is, there is sure to be water. 

FIFTY YEARS AGO 1 839 TO 1 844. 79 

Onward we went, until arrived on the King river, the 
country on the banks being of a very fine description, broad 
level plains, and to a great extent unoccupied. 

Resting a day, Mr. Livingstone and one of the men spent 
their time in a long ride up the river, and so pleased was Mr. 
L. with the extent and character of the unoccupied portion, 
that he came to the conclusion that night, to go no further with 
the sheep, but establish here, a permanent station. And in 
the morning he had formulated his plans. The sheep and the 
men were to stay here, also one dray, and its complement of 
bullocks. The other dray, attached to which were eight 
bullocks, and sixteen additional working bullocks, brought by 
Mr. L., and the horses, he decided should go to Melbourne 
direct, he, himself, accompanying them. And as an extra man 
would be required to help on the road, and he learning that I 
was anxious to go to Melbourne, gave his consent at once that 
I should do so. 

We started on our journey next day, and now I had to be 
a horseman, armed with a long stock whip, to drive the spare 
bullocks. Taking a bridle, to search for and catch the horse 
which I was to ride, which, with the other stock, were grazing 
on the plain, I was earnestly looking out for them, when up 
jumped out of the long grass, a huge black snake, facing me 
within a yard or two, its head being level with mine, or in my 
fright, I imagined it to be so, in much the same way, as related 
of a similar experience by one of our men on the Murray. I 
scarcely knew what I did, so startled and terror-stricken was I, 
for I knew that certain death was in the bite of that snake^ I 
knew that had it been so disposed, it could balance itself on its 
tail, and dart at me with the rapidity of lightning. Without 
thinking of what I was doing, I flung the bridle at its head, 
when it dropped in the long grass, and I could see by the 
waving of the grass, the track that it took, as it travelled 
along to its hiding place. I felt that I had had an almost 
miraculous escape. I remember the day we left the Yackon- 


dikndah, passing a solitary grave, which, we were told, was 
that of a man belonging to a travelling party, like ourselves, 
who had been bitten by a snake. 

Since my arrival in Australia, another illusion of my 
youthful days had been dispelled, so far as regards the habits 
of the serpent tribe. 

'' On thy belly shalt thou go," so I was taught, and left to 
infsr, that being deprived of feet, its motion would be slow. 
Nothing could be further from the reality. The serpent is not 
slow in its movements; that, I had already learned, but 
apparently as perfect in its formation as any other animal, and 
so agile, that it can catch the bird on the wing. It is neither 
slow in its movements, nor has it a slimy skin, as some people 
imagine. * 

The horses being found, and all the stock which were 
going to Melbourne mustered, the dray carrying provisions and 
a tent, we commenced our journey, Mr. Livingstone riding 
one horse and I the other. And I bade farewell to my com- 
panions, in whose company I had spent so long and pleasant 
a time, receiving strict orders from the men to be sure and call 
on them should I ever pass that way, which I promised I should 
certainly do, but it proved a last farewell, as I have never, 
from that day to this, seen or heard of any of them, and it is 
now fifty years since. I may as well mention that the bullock 
driver who travelled with us, was not one of our old party, but 
a stranger to me, an " old hand," formerly transported, but now 
a free man. He had none of the sociability of the men I had 
left behind, but improved before we finally parted. Mr. L. and 
I used to do most of the conversation, and L never found a 
pleasanter companion. 

Two days after crossing the King river, we made the 
Broken River, which, in the dry season, is a long chain of 
ponds, hence its name. We arrived about the middle of the 

* Major Mitchell, in his *' Three Expeditions into the Interior," mentions the killing 
of a black snake, measuring eight and a half feet long, and nine inches in 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. 1839 TO 1844. 81 

day, and in the afternoon we all had a general washing of our 
dirty linen, Mr. L. washing his own. It would seem rather 
a strange thing in England, to see a gentleman washing his 
own shirts, but in those days, and under those circumstances, 
it was common enough. After leaving here, we crossed the 
Goulburn, another large river, but not so large as the Murray, 
having also, its source in the snowy mountains. The native 
name of this river is Bayunga, and it is a pity it did not retain 
that name, instead of being named after some political 
adventurer, or political time server of that distant period of. 
time ; although I am not saying that the Hon. Mr. Goulburn 
was one or the other. How we crossed the Bayunga I don't 
remember. I have no recollection of either boat or bridge. 
From this river to the coast range, within twenty or thirty 
miles of Melbourne, there was nothing of interest, but having 
surmounted the range we find ourselves in a tract of country 
unlike anything we had previously seen in all our journeyings. 

Australian scenery is, as a rule, very monotonous, and 
the Australian gum tree also; but from the summit of this 
dividing range, looking towards Port Phillip, is one of the 
prettiest views in Australia. Fine open forest ground and open 
downs, beautiful valleys, hills of varied size and shape, Mount 
Macedou being to the right, and the soil everywhere a deep rich 
black loam. The grass grew most luxu'riantly, and the forest 
trees, their great variety, immense size, thick foliage, and 
healthy appearance, combined to form a landscape totally 
different from anything we had previously seen. Here, for the 
first time, we saw the forest-oak intermingled with the gum 
tree, which added greatly to the beauty and diversity of the 
landscape. And there were to be seen in the far distance, the 
shores of Port Phillip. 

We had now arrived into the heart of Australia, Felix, 
and a few scattered enclosures began to make their appearance, 
a proof that we were once more approaching a civilized 
country. And what was a stronger proof still, our bullock 
driver, in searching for his bullocks, had seen at the door of a 


hut in one of these enclosures, something so extraordinary, 
that he hastened to the camp in order to relieve his mind. He 
had seen a woman, and would have Mr. L. and myself to come 
and see for ourselves, which we were glad to do, for truth to 
tell I had never seen one for about three months. 

The first discoverers of Port Phillip landing on the flat 
sandy shores of the Port, landing on its worst parts, reported 
to governor King, in Sydney, that Port Phillip was " totally 
unfit, in every point of view, for colonization," and in conse- 
quence it was abandoned for more than thirty years. 

What a fortunate occurrence ! For had it been otherwise 
reported, the whole of this fine country would have long ere 
this been granted (given away) to private individuals, or 
rich agricultural societies, in favour with the government, and 
at the rate land was lavishly given away in those days, a very 
few individuals would have owned the whole of it. 

It was Sunday when we arrived at the Moonee ponds, a 
chain of fine large lagoons, seven miles from Melbourne. Here 
was a substantial inn, very different from the one we had last 
seen on the Murray, and where we all dined, such a dinner as 
we had not had for a long time — ^for months. After which, we 
continued on our journey, and on Sunday, November ist, 1840, 
at the close of a most beautiful day, we encamped off the Flag 
Staff Hill, just above the town of Melbourne, from whence 
ships were signalled entering the Port. And women were no 
more a rarity, for numbers of people of both sexes, were out 
enjoying themselves and the sea breeze. By the time we had 
arranged our camp, and secured the live stock in one of the 
paddocks here, it was night, and from the brow of the hill, we 
could look down on Melbourne. All was still, calm, and quiet, 
not a sound was to be heard, and Melbourne might have been 
a city of the dead. One thing attracted our notice, the numerous 
fires burning in and around the town. We knew they could 
not be street lamps, for there were apparently neither streets 
nor lamps. 



Return to Sydney by sailing ship — Leave Sydney for the Port Phillip 
district — End the Journey at the Broken river, South of the Murray. 

ND here was Melbourne, the place I had so long been 
desirous of seeing. In my old journal, made in 1845, it 
is written, " Melbourne was at this time (1840) in its 
glory ; it was a town of considerable size, it having a population 
of about 3,000." So strongly did Melbourne impress us with 
its magnitude ! And I have an idea that I rather exaggerate 
the number of its inhabitants. I doubt now, if it had 2,000 
permanent residents. 

We were up betimes in the morning, and here we waited 
until the arrival of Mr. L., who had gone into the town the 
night previous, who, on his arrival, directed us to break up our 
camp and make a new one, which he had selected on the right 
bank of the river Yarra Yarra, between one and two miles 
distant from the town. On our way thither, we saw what had 
been the cause of the numerous fires which had puzzled us the 
night before. They were the stumps of trees, which, together 
with the branches, were being burnt off in the newly-outlined 
streets, for there was only one line of houses that might be 
called a street, and that was Collins Street West, and a few 
scattered houses, some of them bordering the streets that were 
to be. 

We reached our encampment, and pitched our tent for the 
last time, having a large fenced paddock near, into which to 
turn our live stock, until Mr. L. had decided what was to be 
done with them. • 


The ground where we were encamped was unoccupied, 
and there were a few scattered houses on both sides of the 
river. Government House, the residence of Superintendent 
Mr. La Trobe, and the government reserve of three hundred 
and odd acres, and what is now the Botanical Gardens, were 
on the opposite side of the river, but lower down, near 

Having, during the time we stayed, comparatively little to 
do, we had an easy time of it, and this easy time lasted about 
two weeks. 

One man being all that was necessary to take charge of the 
camp, one of us, with the willing consent of Mr. L., stayed 
at the camp whilst the other passed his time ranging over the 
suburbs and visiting the town, and so we spent the days. 

Collins Street, I found, was the only street where both 
sides were occupied with houses, and that by no means to its 
full extent, the east end having no houses. Elizabeth Street 
had a few scattered houses, and near Flag Staff Hill had been 
laid out a cemetery, outside the town then, but which must now 
be in the centre of it. The Collins Street, that was, contained 
a variety of houses, several being well built of brick, and many 
more wooden shanties, such as we find in the interior, and 
also weather-boarded houses, roofed with shingles. 

We were now enabled to enjoy the luxury of reading, there 
being one weekly newspaper published in Melbourne, and I was 
able to enjoy another luxury, to which I had long been a 
stranger — fruit. A man at the top of Collins Street, kept a 
little stall, and many were the pounds of apples I bought there ; 
apples from Van Dieman's Land ; but they were sixteen pence 
a pound. 

I spent many days in Melbourne, and its suburbs, having 
first provided myself with a complete rig-out of new clothing, 
which I very much needed — ^for my companion after one or two* 
visits, preferred staying at the camp. 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. 1 839 TO 1 844. 85 

The river Yarra was crossed by a boat. The Yarra Yarra, 
I may state, is a native name, and signifies "ever flowing." 
The natives had sense enough to give their rivers an appropriate 
name, unlike some of the silly names given by the colonists to 
rivers and places ; many of the rivers marked down on the 
maps of Australia, flowing only in rainy seasons ; at other times, 
being only a chain of ponds, or completely dry. I used to cross 
the river, and go down to the sea-beach, wander about, and 
have a bath in the sea. The whole of this tract of country 
between Melbourne and the sea, was a sandy waste, wholly 
unoccupied, covered in places with stunted trees and bushes ; 
unoccupied with one exception, and that was a wooden erection 
on the beach, which passed for an hotel, owned by a Mr. 
Liardet, a Frenchman. He was a genial man, was Mr. Liardet, 
and used to drive into Melbourne most days, with a pair-horsed 
vehicle. And at this hotel, the well-to-do Melboumites, used 
to spend their leisure time enjoying the sea-breezes. This 
sea-beach always went by the name of Liardet 's beach, and 
was three miles from town. 

At the extreme west end of Collins Street, the foundations of 
an episcopaliail church had been laid, of the solid hard stone 
found in the vicinity. It had reached a height of two or three 
feet, and then come to a stop, and I believe it remained in that 
condition for a long time after, the defficiency of funds out- 
balancing the exuberance of zeal. 

I met with a great variety of people in Melbourne, and 
gained from them much information about the interior and 
colonial pursuits. The floating population, that is, the over- 
landers, arriving and departing, being apparently as numerous 
as the residents, the few hotels there were doing a flourishing 

Staying late one night, with some overlanders I met with, 
and the night being very dark, and fearing that I might not 
find our camp, I decided to stay all night at one of the few 
weather boarded lodging houses. The woman of the house 


gave me a bed-room, and complimented me on my respectable 
appearance, it being her wish to keep her house respectable, 
she having determined to have nothing to do with the rough 
characters loafing about the town. I had not long been in 
bed, when I found my sleep sadly disturbed, and at last being 
wide awake, soon found out the cause. The fleas in that bed 
must have been a thousand. In all my life I never had such 
a worrying. I then thought that if I dressed myself and laid 
on the bed, for it was warm weather then, nearly midsummer, 
I should fare better ; I think I was then worse bitten than 
before. No sleep did I get that night, and on the very first 
glimmer of daylight, I opened the front door, and went direct 
to the camp ; stripped myself of everything', changing my 
clothes, throwing my flea bitten ones, near to an ant's nest 
some distance away, had a bath in the river, and then went 
to bed, when I had a comfortable rest. 

I may state that when a bushman finds his bedding in- 
fested with fleas, his best remedy is to lay it near an ant's nest, 
the ants clearing out the intruders in no time, which operation 
being completed, towards evening they leave it. But caution 
has to be used that there are no straggling ants left in the 
bedding, or the sleeper would find the remedy worse than the 
disease ; for all the ant tribe in Australia having a stinging bite, 
the soldier-ant and bull-dog ant, particularly so. I can com- 
pare the bite of these, and that of a little green-headed ant, to 
nothing but the point of a red hot knitting needle touching the 

I remember in my travels a fellow taking off" his nether 
garment, and seating himself on a dead tree, in order to carry 
out some necessary repairs, having his labours brought to a 
sudden stop — a very sudden stop — by one of these green-headed 
ants. He did not need reminding of his nakedness twice. 

These incidental remarks may have little interest for the 
English reader, but are sure to be interesting to the colonists 
of to-day. 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. 1 839 TO 1 844. 87 

Mr. Livingstone eventually sold all his stock, and at very 
good prices, and I and my companion were at liberty. At the 
breaking up of our camp Mr. L. generously offered me free 
quarters at the hotel where he was staying until I got another 
berth, which generosity I felt I had no right to accept, as I had 
sufficient for all my wants, and intended leaving Melbourne 
shortly. And so I parted with a man whose nobility of 
character, generosity of disposition, and courteous manners, 
gained the esteem of all with whom he came in contact. In my 
joumeyings in the colony afterwards, I have met with good 
and true men and pleasant companions, but I don't know that 
I ever met the equal of Mr. L. Our parting was for all 
time, for we have never met each other since. 

I felt now that I was no longer an ignorant ** jimmigrant." 
I had gone through a good preparatory training for a life in the 
bush, which life I preferred, for the reason that it served best 
the purpose for which I came to the colony, and another thing, 
I liked that sort of life. I liked its freedom and inde- 
pendence, which I would not, at that time, have bartered for 
any situation in the town, for through Mr. Livingstone's 
recommendation, I had the offer of a clerkship, an employment 
at all times most distasteful to me. 

The colony, that is, this Port Phillip district, was 
flourishing, cattle and all other stock were fetching good prices, 
and for work, on the cattle and sheep stations, wages were very 
high and employment abundant. An ordinary shepherd, the 
laziest life in existence, could get his twenty shillings a week 
and liberal rations. 

I had an offer made to me to accompany an overland party 
going to South Australia, and nothing would have pleased me 
better, a journey of about six or seven hundred miles, more it 
might be, I cannot say, through a wild unoccupied country, 
but I received information from Sydney, of some goods having 
arrived for me from England, which necessitated my going 
there to look after them. But before leaving Melbourne, I 
cannot avoid relating another of my experiences whilst there. 


The Sydney government (for this district, then formed 
part of New South Wales), had issued notices of a sale of sub- 
urban allotments. It was a practice of the Government to 
sell the town allotments by instalments. In 1837, the upset 
price of these allotments was £^ the half acre (they being 
then, as now, sold by auction). It was proposed to make the 
upset price £y, but the Government surveyor thought it was 
too mtich. 

At this time the Government had issued notices of a sale 
on a certain day of suburban allotments. It had now become 
a practice for Sydney land speculators, to attend these sales, 
the wise ones amongst them, foreseeing that Melbourne allot- 
ments must ultimately prove a good investment. The 
Government also, had awakened to this possibility, and had 
raised the upset price. 

The Sydney speculator's could not travel overland, the 
journey being too long and wearisome. Their only practicable 
.means of reaching Melbourne was by sea, and by sailing vessels. 
There were no steamers between the two towns then. 

It so happened that the Sydney land-speculators failed to 
attend this sale, owing to contrary winds making the voyage 
so long, that when the ship arrived at Melbourne, the sale was 

When the day of sale came, I was there ; the allotments 
were put up at £2^ the half acre. Owing to the absence of the 
Sydney speculators, there was little competition for them, and 
the allotments were knocked down for some trifle over the 
upset price. If I remember rightly, some were not sold, no one 
bidding for them. 

My late companion and bullock-driver was there also. I 
remember him nudging me and saying : "I say Yorky, I would 
buy one of them if I were you." But no such thought entered 
my head, although I could have bought one or two allotments 
and never felt the want of the money. If I had felt that want, 
I knew I could get my wants supplied from England. 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. — 1 839 TO 1 844. 89 

** No," said I, "what do I want with allotments. I shall 
be leaving Melbourne directly, and may not see it again, and 
perhaps in my journeyings I may get killed by the blacks. 
What will be the use of allotments then ?" 


Writing this in 1890, fifty years having passed since that 
land sale, I cannot help asking myself if this land sale was not 
all a dream, seeing the enormous difference between the value 
of land in the colony then, and now. When I contrast the 
Melbourne I knew and its 3000 inhabitants, with the Melbourne 
of to-day, with its probable 400,000, its magnificent buildings, 
its miles of streets ; and in the enjoyment of all the conveniences 
necessary to the comfort and luxurious habits of a civilized 
community, suburbs for many miles round, 'all enclosed and 
cultivated, and adorned with residences, some of which might 
be called palatial. When I read that the colony of which 
Melbourne is the capital, had, in 1886, 1700 miles. of railway, 
and many more in progress ; that old Australia, as I knew it, is 
dead, and all its industrial occupations as conducted in the 
past are dead also, I may be pardoned for thinking that I might 
be labouring under a delusion, when I state that suburban allot- 
ments were knocked down by the auctioneer's hammer for a 
trifle over £25 the half acre. For, be it remembered, the 
suburbs I am writing about, are not suburbs now, but form part 
of the city of Melbourne ; so dubious was the government of 
the day, and many more besides, myself amongst them, of 
Melbourne ever being a great city. 

Again I read in the Times, of October, 1888, that 500 acres 
of poor soil, with a cottage, some twenty-six miles from Mel- 
bourne, which we, in my time, should have thought dear at ;f i 
per acre, had lately been sold for ^50,000 ; whilst in England, 
an estate of 1550 acres, with a grand old mansion "built by an 
eminent historical personage," a deer park, six park lodges, 
one mile and a half from a station, and only thirty miles from 
London, was offered for the same price. 

I read also in the same paper, that fifteen years ago a 
cattle " run " and house situate sixty miles from Melbourne 


were sold for ;f 240,000, and that to-day the same estate would 
sell for ;^i, 000,000. 

I remember the time when a cattle " run *' could be 
leased from the Government ; sixty-one hundred, two hundred, 
or more square miles, for ;^io per annum, and some threepence 
per head on the cattle. 

When again I read that in 1886 the supply of raspberries 
from the upper valley of the river Yarra, to Melbourne, exceed 
in value ;^i 50,000, and that an orange orchard, half an acre in 
extent, on the lower Murray, rents for £^0 per ^.nnum, the 
owner at the same time finding it very remunerative. When 
I, in 1889, fifty years after I landed in the colony, read all 
these statements, is it any wonder that I should realize to the 
fullest extent, the truth of the well-known words of Shakes- 

'* There is a tide in the aiEairs of men, 
" Which, if taken at the flood, 
*' Leads on to fortune." 

I agreed for a passage to Sydney onboard the brig " Jewess,*' 
and we set sail for that Port some time in December, 1840. 
Owing to contrary winds, we were beating about in Bass's 
Straits several days. Bass's Straits are about 150 miles wide, 
and separate the Australian continent from Tasmania. Several 
islands are in the Straits, making navigation by sailing ships 
dangerous. The largest of these is King's Island, on which at 
this time were located the few remaining natives of Tasmania, 
On this island a dreadful shipwreck took place in 1845. The 
ship's name was the ** Cataraqui," and 423 lives were lost, all 
emigrants, in sight, as it were, of their adopted country. I 
believe not a single life was saved. 

After a somewhat rough passage of twelve days we arrived 
in Port Jackson, and I took up my quarters with my old cabin 
companion on board the ** Heber," John Bruse, with whom I 
stayed two or three weeks, resting from my past labours. 

Clearing out my consignment of goods, I came to the 
determination to return to Port Phillip overland as before. 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. 1 839 TO 1 844. QI 

hoping to meet with another overland party on my route. I 
had acquired an affection for that part of the country, and 
rejoiced in the thought of seeing it again. 

Having provided myself with the requisite necessaries, I 
took the coach and proceeded by it as far as Goulburn. A 
long distance at that time. The fare was four guineas, besides 
expenses on the road. My next principal stopping place was 
Berrima, when I had the pleasure of again meeting my old 
friend Cooper, the man who so generously assisted me after I 
had been robbed coming from Razor Back Mountain (see page 
58). At Berrima I stayed all night, and was able to pay 
Cooper, that which he so kindly gave to me, but I had great 
difficulty in persuading him to take it, neither would he have 
done so, had I not proved to him that I was well able to pay. 
We parted in the morning, and I have never seen him since. 
From Berrima I went by easy stages to Limestone Plains, 
having always an inn to lodge at. I stayed a few days at 
Limestone Plains, at my old quarters, and then proceeded to 
Yass. Not meeting with an overland party there, I continued 
my journey to the Murrumbidgee, where I arrived sometime 
about February, 1841. February is one of the midsummer 
months in Australia, and the heat was very great. 

It gave me great pleasure to see this fine river once more, 
and enjoy the sound of its rippling waters and shady trees. 
The river banks were not green as I saw them the first time. 
The heat of the summer had dried up the grass, and bleached 
it to the colour of a ripe corn field. Yet it was still, to my 
thinking, a lovely place. 


It was nearly dark when I got to the crossing place. I 
could have stayed at the inn, but preferred crossing over the 
river and camping out, a practice to which I was now well 
accustomed, and which at this time of the year was no hard- 
ship, but the reverse. 


The boat used for crossing ths river being swamped, there' 
was no alternative for me but to swim across. My greatest 
difficulty was to get over my clothes without wetting them, but 
a man on horseback happened to be on the spot, who was 
going over, and the river not being deep, he could ford it 
without having tp swim his horse, so I engaged him to carry 
them for me, and a few minutes after saw us both safely landed 
on the opposite side. I would not have trusted any man to carry 
over niy things, but this man was well known, and living here, 
and could he trusted. After having dried and dressed myself, 
1 lighted a fire, boiled my tea, which, with some damper I had ' 
with me, completed my supper. Then, after a smoke from the 
pipe, with my blankets round me, I lay down to rest, and 
having walked upwards of thirty miles that day, carrying at 
the same time a heavy load, I soon fell asleep. 

In the morning the sun rose in a cloudless sky, I got my 
breakfast, such as it was, and proceeded up the river, in order 
to find an old acquaintance of mine, who, I was told in Yass, 
was located here, and wished to see me. 

This was my friend Castro, whose acquaintance I made in 
Sydney, on my first arrival, he having arrived about three 
weeks before myself in a ship from London. " He was a 
surveyor by profession, well educated, and a pleasant com- 
panion, and I am sure, from what I learned afterwards, his 
family connections were highly respectable. But he, like 
hundreds more of his class in the .colony, could never meet 
with the employment for which he was suited, and, like them, 
' had to take to the rough .work of the interior. I had not seen 
him since I left Sydney on my first journey into the interior. 
About two miles up the river I found him cutting up a leg of 
mutton on an old dead tree. He was living with another man 
in a bark gunyah, close to the banks of the river under the 
shade of some lofty gum trees, and was then a shepherd, and 
his companion, an old soldier, was watchman for the sheep at 
night. I believe he was very glad to see me, and would have 
me stay a week with him. 

FIFTY YEARS AGO 1 839 TO 1 844. . Q^ 

He had a long tale to tell me of his wanderings since his 
arrival in the colony, and the different occupations he had 
engaged in. He had for six months been hammer-man for a 
blacksmith. He had been a stockman, and now he was a 
shepherd, and seemed quite happy and contented. 

It was a very agreeable place he lived in, amongst the 
urnbrageous trees and grassy plains of the river. Thousands 
of sulphur-crested white cockatoos had made these trees their 
roosting place, and their noise on assembling at night and 
leaving in the morning for their feeding ground, reminded me 
of the rooks in the parks at home ; indeed, it only wanted a 
mansion to complete the resemblance. 

Having brought some fish hooks from Sydney, rny leisure 
hours were chiefly employed in fishing, and in perusing some 
old " Times '* newspapers my friend had with him. Several 
stations had been formed on the river since my former residence 
here, and herds of cattle, 

" Peaceful beneath primeval trees," 
made the scene still more interesting. 

I gave him such a good account of the Port Phillip district, 
that he came to the determination to go with me, for the time 
for which he had engaged as a shepherd had already come to 
an end, and he was only waiting for a settlement with his em- 
ployer, which, having been accomplished, he got the usual paper 
order on Sydney for his wages due, for there was still very little 
other kinds of money in circulation. 

Having supplied ourselves with provisions at the inn, at 
the crossing place on the river, we started on our journey for 
the Murray river, camping the first night on the banks of the 
Murrumbidgee, the river we were leaving. What tremendous 
floods there must be in these rivers at times ! even on these 
broad river flats, the drift timber of former floods could be seen 
hanging in the trees higher than' our heads. Some other party 
had stayed at this, our camping ground, the night previous, 
and had left a large tree burning, and also, to our delight, the 


greater part of an English newspaper, and of latest date, con- 
taining news of which we had no previous knowledge. The 
newspaper was the ** Spectator." Its chief item of news had 
reference to Lord Cardigan, and the ** black bottle scandal," 
for that was the name it went by. This ** black bottle scandal," 
and the arbitary conduct of Lord Cardigan, were severely 
criticised by the newspapers of the time. It was the exciting 
topic of the day. Lord Cardigan was well known as a severe 
military martinet, or at least he was said to be, others have 
denied it. Captain Reynolds, of the i ith Hussars (of which 
regiment Lord Cardigan was colonel), had had the audacity to 
place on the mess table a black bottle, I suppose instead of the 
orthodox cut glass decanter. That act of Captain Reynolds, 
had excited the ire of Lord Cardigan, who sent a message to 
Captain Reynolds, telling him amongst other things, that ** the 
officers' mess should be conducted like a gentleman's table, and 
not like a common pot-house." High words, I should suppose, 
passed between them, Captain Reynolds was arrested, tried by 
Court Martial, and dismissed the service. 

This was not the only high-handed proceeding of Lord 
Cardigan, nor the first, or the last. The comments of the 
newspaper press on this " black bottle " affair, were most severe 
on Lord Cardigan, more especially the Liberal press ; and this 
torn newspaper which we found at our encampment, had iu it 
a leading article, on the ** black bottle scandal," and was our 
only printed companion during the time Castro and I travelled 
together. We read it during our night encampments by the 
light of a log fire, over and over again, advertisements and all, 
until we had its contents nearly off by heart. I remember its 
leading article on the ** black bottle " affair, was particularly 
spicy, and admirably written. We read it so often that I can 
remember some portions of it to this day, and the following 
portion is what I do remember. 

** The noble Lord has had to contend with the disadvantages 
of a long peace, yet, with the aspiring efforts of genius, he has 
managed to distinguish himself. His name is associated 

FIFTY YEARS AGO 1 839 TO 1 844. 95 

with cloistered Canterbury, and floats, as the song has it, along 
the banks of the blue Moselle. At one time we mark him 
hurling defiance at the miller of Kent (in allusion to some 
quarrel he had had with a jolly miller), and now do we find him 
adding to his laurels, the torn commission of a broken captain. 
Will the noble Lord be content with this single sprig, or will 
he meek Caesar, seek to cover the baldness of peace with new 

On our second days' journey we leave the river, and now 
we have to travel over a flat and uninteresting country to the 
Murray, said to be distant 140 miles. It may be that, or less, 
for there were no measured distances then. I know it took us 
several days to travel the distance, and the weather was fear- 
fully hot, and water was scarce, very difierent to what it was 
on my first journey over the same ground. Then, the grass 
was green, the climate temperate, and the flat expanse was 
pleasant, if not picturesque. There were no running waters, 
only occasional pools at long distances apart. Sometimes we 
would be a whole day and taste no water, from starting in the 
morning till reaching our camping place at night. I have 
known our mouths so parched that for many miles we could 
not talk to each other ; and I have known my mouth so dry 
that my tongue has felt like a piece of dried stick. Bushmen 
never encamp, if possible, except near water, and our practice 
was to do the same, so that one day's journey would be long 
and another short. When we did reach water, we soon forgot 
the past and enjoyed ourselves. 

The whole of this tract of country was covered with an 
open forest of stunted gum trees, whose foliage was scanty, 
such as are so often met with in Australia, where the soil is 
poor and water scarce. Of course firewood was in abundance. 

In such a tract of country as this, and at this time of the 
year, the only living sound to be heard is the shrill note of the 
cicada, called by the colonists ** locusts." Birds of all kinds are 
absent, except, it may be, the common carrion crow with its 


melancholy caw-caw. The hotter the temperature, the more 
lively are these locusts. They seem to be everywhere present 
in millions, and yet rarely are they seen. 

All along the route there were no sheep or cattle stations, 
nor a house of any description till we reached the Murray. 
There were a few stations but some miles off the road. 

When on our journey, we got to our camping place and 
water, and each of us had had our quart of tea and a rest, and 
the fiery sun had set, then we began to feel like enjoying 

Castro had with him his journal which he had kept ever 
since his arrival in the colony, He used to read this to me 
during our nightly bivouac, and very interesting it was. Sorry 
am I that I cannot remember some of its incidents. He had 
also a number of letters received from relatives in England. 
These he read also. Considering his present circumstances 
and position, it was amusing to hear the good advice they'gave 
him. How he was to be sure and avoid bad company ; not to 
omit attending church, and in a general way to conduct him- 
self with well-regulated propriety. Fancy all this advice to a 
man who, by force of circumstances, was living a life in the 
bush, probably two hundred or more miles from a church, and 
the bulk of whose companions could be no other than convicts, 
or those who had been ; and then we always had our torn 
newspaper, we never missed reading that, usually beginning 
with : 

" The noble Lord has had to contend with the disad- 
vantages of a long peace, yet, with the aspiring efforts of 
genius, he has managed to distinguish himself, &c., &c." 

Pleased we were when we came in sight of the Murray, to 
once more listen to the sound of running water. Only those 
who have travelled in hot desert countries, can truly realize the 
old scripture phrases which dwell so lovingly on '' Fountains 
of living water." The depth of meaning, in these and like 
expressions, cannot be realized in a cold rainy climate like that 
of England. 

FIFTY YEARS AGO 1 839 TO 1 844. 97 

No changes had taken place on the Murray since the time 
when I first saw it. There was still one house, and no more. 

A large herd of cattle was also here, on the road to the 
South, and here I lost my friend and companion, Castro. The 
party in charge of the cattle wanting help, Castro decided to 
join them. Sorry was I to part with him. Where he was 
going to be located was not known, but he promised to write 
to me, and forward his letter to the Post Office in Melbourne. 
But I never received a letter from him, or saw him, or heard of 
him again. But the fault was to a great extent my own, for it 
must have been nearly twelve months before I saw Melbourne, 
and I know from experience the usual fate of unclaimed letters 
at that time. I wonder if poor Castro is alive now. Scarcely 
possible, for he was some six or seven years older than I. 

I was half inclined to join his party myself, as I might 
have done, had I not seen an old acquaintance crossing the 
river in the canoe, who proved to be one of my old ** Heber '* 
shipmates, therefore, as a shipmate on the voyage out, doubly 
welcome. He had a large piece of beef in his hand, and was 
going to his encampment on the opposite side of the river, and 
was taking things quite easily and comfortable, waiting the 
arrival of a large herd of cattle from Maneroo Plains, which he 
was to take charge of on the road to Port Fairy. He gave me 
a pressing invitation to stay with him as long as I thought 
proper, which invitation I accepted. We were both anxious to 
make an interchange of our several adventures and experiences 
since our arrival in the colony, and did so, much to our mutual 

Close to the river, about a mile lower down, was a 
barrack, occupied by some Mounted Police and a Crown Land 
Commissioner, and I had another invitation from them, so 
betwixt the two I continued to stay on the Murray three weeks. 
The reason I stayed so long was owing to my intending to go 
with my newly-found shipmate, as he much wished me to do. 
But when the cattle arrived, the person who had to direct them 


on their journey was taken ill, and could not proceed, owing to 
which, the whole charge fell upon my friend. This incident 
caused me to change my mind at once, as I had so poor an 
opinion of his capacity for steering by compass (there being no 
road), through an almost unknown country, that I declined 
going with him, confidently expecting that he would be taking 
his party into some difficult place, and get both himself and 
them killed by the blacks. 

Yet I was wrong in my surmises after all, as some time 
after, I saw him in Melbourne, and heard from him of the safe 
arrival of himself and party at Port Fairy. 

Castro's herd of cattle having already been gone some days, 
I decided not to wait longer on the Murray, nor to go direct to 
Goulburn, but follow our old route to the Yackond^ndah. I had 
two objects in view in making this divergence. One was that 
I might, if possible, come across my old companions, with whom 
I had spent so pleasant a time on my former journey, and also 
that I might probably get some seeds of the beautiful flowering 
bush, growing on the Yakond^ndah. I wanted a souvenir of 
the place, and I knew of nothing so appropriate. 

I carried no food with me except tea and sugar — and of 
course tobacco — as I calculated on making a station every 
night, and meeting with people I knew, and where I was sure 
I should be welcome. Money was of no use whatever, but 
tobacco was always a prizeable article at these out-of-the-way 

I had now no companion except a dog, and as night came on, 
I discovered that I had lost my way, and would have to camp 
out in the bush without supper. Going without supper, I could 
have put up with tolerably well, I had got used to that sort of 
thing, but to add to my misfortune I found I had lost my tinder- 
box. My carbine, which I had with me, would have answered 
the same purpose, but my ammunition was gone also, being all 
expended whilst staying on the Murray, and for some time I 
did not expect I should require any. Alluding to the loss of a 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. — 1 839 TO 1 844. 99 

tinder-box, readers must understand, that all bush-men in those- 
days carried a flint, steel, and tinder-box, which they had to 
use every time they required a fire or light for a pipe. Lucifer 
matches in the interior were unknown. 

And now to complete my troubles, the night set in with 
drizzling rain. I cooy-ed, as loud as I could, many times repeat- 
ing the ** coo-y," hoping that some wanderer like myself or 
inmate of some stock station might hear me, but all to na 
purpose.* All that I could do was to try and shelter under 
trees, but fortunately the rain did not last long. The ground 
was too damp for lying down, so I passed the night, sometimes 
seated at the foot of a tree, at other times walking about, 
and great was my joy when I saw daybreak. 

As soon as it was light enough to see to travel, I started 
on my journey, feeling stiff and cold at first, but the walking 
soon revived me, and the clouds having cleared away, the sun 
shone out bright, and everything looked cheerful again. 

After walking three or four miles, trying to find the track 
I had lost the day before, I heard a dog bark, and saw the 
smoke coming from the chimney of a hut a little distance away. 
I directly made to it, and soon was seated by the side of a good 
breakfast of damper, beef, and tea. 

In the interior parts of the colony, every hut was a home 
to the traveller, no matter who he was, he was made welcome ; 
and in many parts the arrival of a stranger was doubly welcome, 
he was a bearer of news, and a break in the monotony of their 
lives. It was a custom which all observed, rendered necessary 
by peculiar circumstances. No one thought of offering money 
for the hospitality he received. Nothing would have been 
considered a greater insult. And let the prison population be 
what they might, no class could outdo them in hospitality. 

The hut was a cattle station, occupied by three men, they 
pressed me much to stay the day with them, which I did, and 
enjoyed a good sleep on a bed of sheep skins belonging to one 

* The natives (bla>cks) in calling to one another used the word " ooo-y," in a loud dear 
voice, which can he heard a great distance. White fellows " coo-y " in the same 


of the men. It was a common practice to keep at these places 
extra sheep skins, washed and dried, for the accommodation of 
any casual traveller, and to a bushman, a very good bed it was. 

Next day I continued my journey, and after being one 
more night in the bush, I arrived at the cattle station near our 
old encampment on the Yakond^ndah. They all seemed 
pleased to see me, and wanted me to stay a week with them. 
Their questions respecting Sydney, affairs in England, and the 
general news of the day, were endless, so that I was to them a 
travelling newspaper. And these men were all prisoners of the 
crown (assigned servants), and behaved very kindly to me. 
After staying here a day or two, and having been supplied by 
the men with rations and a stock of ammunition, I travelled on 
towards Port Phillip, passing our old encampment on the 
Yakond^ndah. It was greatly changed since we left it. Long 
rank grass had grown up in the sheep , yard, and all over the 
camp ; our bark gunyahs were thrown down, and the stumps of 
the trees we had felled had shot out numerous shoots long 
enough to shade the tops of the stumps, so rapidly does vegeta- 
tion grow in this climate. 

The Yackonddndah creek was almost dry, from the 
drought and heat of the past summer. I sought for the flower- 
ing bushes, from which I was anxious to obtain seeds, and 
found them, but no seeds. There were plenty of seed pods 
hanging on the bushes, but the pods were all empty, and 
evidently had been so for a long time. I could not find one 
seed, which was a great disappointment to me. 

I left the Yakonddndah for the last time and arrived on 
the King river, where I expected to find my old companions. 
Staying at a sheep station hut for the night, I learned from the 
men that the doctor and all his party, stock, and all had gone 
on to Melbourne, some two or three months previous. 

This was another disappointment to me. 

I learned from the hut-keeper, what I did not know before, 
that that day was Good Friday, and in consequence, he was 
sorry to say, he could not give me any meat for my supper, as he 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. — 1839 TO 1844. lOI 

and his companions were abstaining from meat that day, and 
he amused me when apologising for the absence of meat by 
saying : ** It was a poor thing if people could not fast one day 
in the year, and that day ought to be Good Friday, but he 
should be glad when it was over." 

On leaving this place, I still kept our old route till I came 
on to the Broken river, where the high road to Port Phillip 
crosses it, and much to my surprise, I found there, two more of 
my old fellow-passengers of the ** Heber," on the voyage out. 
One of them was Mr. Bosworth, a cabin passenger, and he had 
now a station four miles distant, and a herd of some 1500 head 
of cattle. The other was one of the three who shared with me 
the second cabin on board that vessel, and was now overseer 
in charge for Mr. Bosworth. He went by the name of Jock ; 
I will call him Jock Warder. Both were Scotsmen, and to 
their camping ground I went that night. 

Temporary huts were all the accommodation they had. 
Mr. B.'s hut for himself and Jock was formed entirely of sheets 
of bark, both roof and sides. Table and bedstead of the same 
material, and the cut offends of logs for seats, not a very showy 
residence for a gentleman of independent means, yet it was 
very clean and comfortable, and they seemed very happy. 

Having had wandering enough to satisfy me for some 
time, I accepted Mr. Bosworth's offer, and engaged as stock- 
man, and there were three other stockmen besides myself, and 
three or four other extra hands. The duties of a stockman I 
shall describe further on. 

The present station was only a temporary one, as it was 
intended in a few weeks to take all the cattle into Gipp's Land, 
a fine track of country lying east of the Snowy Mountains, 
first discovered by Count Strezeleeki. However,- Gipp's Land 
was ultimately abandoned, and it was decided that we should 
go to the Devil's river, at the foot of the same mountains, on 
the western side, and there form a permanent station. Having 
collected all the cattle together, we started on the journey, a 
distance of seventy miles. And in a few days we arrived at 
our destination, the latter end of May. 



Form a Cattle Station there — The Country and our Work described- 
Leave for Melbourne. 



llHE name given to this river at that time, no doubt owing 
to former attempts to occupy it ending so disastrously. 

This station had been in the possession of a Mr. Waugh, I 
think that was his name ; the author of a book entitled : 
" Three years' experience in New South Wales," a book which 
was in circulation in England at the time I set sail for that 
colony, and its description of the pleasures and profits of sheep 
farming in Australia was made so attractive, that I believe 
that book induced many people to emigrate to the colony, who 
otherwise would have stayed at home. And yet, the author 
hiimself, in the end, met with nothing but disaster and ruin, and 
on this river. It became a Devil's river to him. 

At the time he wrote his ** Three years' experience," he 
was doing very well, much better than he could in all pro- 
bability have done at home, until he entered on this station, at 
that time nearly isolated ; then his misfortunes began. The 
,catarrh attacked his sheep, committing terrible ravages amongst 
'them, and those that remained alive decreased in value, his 
•expenses at the same time being very heavy, owing to the high 
price paid for every kind of labour. 

In order to isolate his healthy sheep from the disease that 
was killing off so many, he formed another solitary station six 
miles higher up the river, to which station he sent the greater 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. 1839 TO 1844. IO3 

part of his remaining flock of sheep and three men with them. 
They had been there but a few weeks, when, on his paying a 
visit to the station, he found the bark " Mia-Mi," in which the 
men lived, burned to the ground.* The watchman lay dead 
near it, his head beaten in, the two shepherds were never 
found, or any remains of them. The sheep scattered in every 
direction by the blacks, and but few of them were ever re- 
covered. Being unable to contend longer with such an 
accumulation of disasters, he sold the station and improvements 
on it for a mere trifle, and left the place. 


will be found a pleasanter narrative to read. The station, on 
our arrival, to all appearance, had been deserted a long time, 
probably two years. We found one hut divided into two 
apartments, and a good-sized paddock, enclosed with a two-rail 
fence. In this hut we all had to live, until more huts could be 

About three weeks after our arrival, we formed an out- 
station, close to the place where Mr. Waugh's unfortunate 
men were killed, and half the cattle were sent there, and the 
other half remained at the head station, their grazing ground 
ranging for miles down the river. I and two men were sent to 
this out-station, and we, being supplied with split timber 
and sheets of bark, built a hut, and in less than a week 
had fitted it up (bush fashion) and made it quite comfortable ; 
and here I spent some of my pleasantest days during my 
sojourn in Australia. The party I was with, although all 
** old hands," were, to take them as a whole, quiet and steady 
fellows, as these men as a rule are, when far away from 
" drink." 

Our hut was within six yards of the river, on a small piece 
of rising ground. The river, although small and rapid, was a 
never-failing stream, as all are which take their rise in the 

* *' Mia-Mi " was the name given by the natives of Port Phillip district to their tem- 
porary bark huts. " Gunyah " was the name given to the same by the blacks of 
the old New South Wales colony. 


Snowy mountains. The country round, for beauty of scenery, 
could vie with any part of Australia. The Murrumbidgee, 
which had previously pleased me so much, did not partake of 
the same character as this place. The scenery there, although 
very pleasing, yet lacked that variety, sublimity, and grandeur, 
which is nowhere to be found in Australia, except in the Snowy 
mountains. The river was only small, about twice the size of 
the Yackond^ndah. In America it would be called a creek. 
Close to our hut the course of the river was rapid, breaking 
occasionally over rocky falls a few feet in height, till, on nearing 
our head station, wide alluvial flats were formed, and the current 
became less rapid. On the edge of one of these rocky water- 
falls was our habitation, and in the stillness of the night, the 
noise of the falling water, was the only sound that enlivened 
our solitude. The waterfalls of colder climates have not the 
same pleasurable effect on the senses as those in warmer 
latitudes. But here, in this bright and sunny climate, the 
sight and sound of these running sparkling waters, is both 
soothing and refreshing. 

The tract of country through which the river ran, had not the 
broad river flats of the Murray and Murrumbidgee, nor was the 
valley narrow and contracted like that of the Yackond^ndah ; 
this portion, which formed our "run," extended for thirty miles 
down the river, that being our boundary. There were some 
flat lands, but its general characteristic was that of a " spur," 
from the main range, broken up into many deep gullies, which 
ended in the mountains, and these gullies furnished fine grazing 
ground for the cattle, so that from the river the "run" extended 
far back into the main range of mountains, as far as human 
beings or cattle could go. 

The other side of the river consisted of hill and valley 
plains and open forest, all well suited for any kind of stock. 
The banks of the river were fringed with acacias all its length, 
and in early spring, when covered with a profusion of flowers, 
the course of the river, when seen from the high lands, could 
be traced for miles, by the clustered masses of golden yellow 

FIFTY YEARS AGO — 1 839 TO 1 844. IO5 

flowers, which, at the same time, exhaled the sweetest of 
perfumes, so powerful, that when carried by the breeze, could 
be perceived a great way off, forming an exception to the 
assertion often made, that the flowers of Australia are without 
scent, and the birds without song, which is true to a certain 
extent only. 

The characteristic features of our " run " were open forest, 
chiefly of blue gum trees, gradually merging into stringy bark 
gum in the mountain ranges, and on ascending higher still, 
there were other varieties of the gum tree, some of them being 
of a gigantic size. On the opposite side of the river, where we 
lived, was a small plain, sloping down to the river, probably 
two hundred acres in extent, more or less, on the verge of which 
was a sheep station hut, occupied by three men, belonging to a 
large establishment, whose head station was situated about 
thirty miles below, on that side of the river. From this hut, 
being on a hill, the view was very fine, and the plain intervening, 
the mountains, could be seen in all their grandeur, forming a 
panorama, of which Mount Buller, nearly 6,000 feet high, with 
its craggy summit glistening with snow, was the central figure, 
the lower slopes to the edge of the plain being covered with a 
dark green forest. Here were contrasts sufficient to gladden 
the heart of a landscape painter ; blue sky, a craggy summit 
sprinkled with snow ; and below that, a dark green forest, 
bordering a plain of a paler green. The topmost peaks of 
Mount Buller were covered with snow all the year, with the 
exception of about two months during the heat of summer. 
The view, looking down the river, was softer in character, con- 
sisting of low hills, some of them without a single tree, open 
forest and small plains. 

Our cattle had to be herded in the daytime, and confined 
in a large stock-yard at night. A necessary proceeding when 
cattle are brought from a distance on to a new ** run." In 
about six weeks they were turned out on to the " run " to range 
at their own sweet will, and it is then the stockman's duty to 
see that they do not leave it. This is a difficult matter at first, 


SO very prone are they to make back to their old runs. Many 
of ours went back to the broken river. When properly broken 
in to a " run," the stockman's duties are very light, 
particularly in the summer time, as they are sure to be foimd 
during the day, near water. 

As this system of stock-keeping is now a thing of the past, 
it may interest modern Austrahans if I detail a 

stockman's duties in the "olden time. 


A stockman must be a good rider, and was provided with 
two horses ; hardy animals .which rarely saw a stable, but found 
their own living in the bush ; were seldom groomed, and were 
seldom, if ever, shod. The stockman was in general a very 
independent character. There was a good deal of the free 
trapper of the Western prairies about some of them. He must 
be a good bushman, and able to steer his course to the furthest 
extremity of his " run," and beyond it if necessary, and find 
his way home again. He was armed- with a whip, having a 
lash ten or more feet in length, whilst the handle was not more 
than two feet long, it was a formidable weapon in the hands of 
a practised man. The crack of this whip could be heard a 
great distance, and when nearing a neighbouring station, he 
signalized his approach by cracks from his whip. In those 
" olden days" that was a signal for the people at the station 
to " sling the pot " for the coming guest, let him be stranger or 
not. When not in use, the whip was coiled up and carried in 
the hand. 

He was supposed to know the country well for sixty miles 
round, and occasionally would have to make a journey of two 
or three days, when on the track of stray cattle. At such 
times he would be provided with a pair of blankets, a carbine 
and ammunition, a tomahawk, a bag with some flour, or a 
small damper, a small bag of tea and sugar, and a quart and 
pint pot. When night overtook him, if he could not make a 
station, he made a fire, hobbled his horse and turned him out 
to feed, cut a small piece, of bark, op which to mix his flodr. 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. — 1 839 TO 1 844. '1O7 

then spread it out very thin, and baked it on the top of the hot 
charcoal. These were called ** murra make haste cakes," and 
no one would believe how sweet this bread is, except those who 
have eaten it. A quart pot, full of very strong tea, completed 
his meal. But, as a rule, in a newly-settled country like this, 
where an attack from the blacks was a probability, stockmen 
travelled in pairs, two together. 

But this preparation for a journey was on the supposition 
that his search for cattle might lead him a long distance, away 
from any human habitation, but his usual practice was to 
make a station if possible. To do so was advantageous in 
several ways. A neighbouring cattle station was a home 
where he was almost certain to be known, and where he would 
meet with companionship, and in many instances where he 
would be highly entertained ; for some of these men, rough as 
they might seem to be, were often well educated, and pleasant 
company. And he would hear from other stockmen, if amongst 
their herds, were any of the cattle he was on the look out for. 
If there were, his entertainers in the morning would mount 
their horses, and by the aid of their long whips, pick them out 
from the herd, and help him to get them on to their own 
" run." And these same men would return the visit somei- 
time or other, and pick up their own stray cattle in the same 

It must be remembered that the cattle that the stockman 
had charge of, were half wild, not confined to a farm, but 
scattered over a territory as large as a moderate-sized county^ 
without a fence of any description. 

A large herd of one or two thousand usually grouped 
themselves into small mobs of one or two hundred, more or 
less, each mob having its own camping ground, near water, 
and under the shade of trees, especially in the summer time. 
If a stockman, on going his rounds, found some absent, it was 
his duty to find them. 


A stockman's life was, at all times, more free, and under 
less restrain than that of a shepherd. If the wes^ther was 
stormy and wet, he could stay at home and smoke* his pipe, 
and take things easy. Not so with the shepherd, he must be 
out with his sheep in all weathers, on account of the ** din- 
goes,*' or native dogs. 


Such were some of the duties of a stockman in the olden 
time, fifty years ago. 

My companions at this solitary station were two men, 
both freemen, but had been convicts. One was a Lancashire 
man, who was always called Lankey. The other was a 
Londoner, called Tommy. Both were good stockmen, and 
excellent riders, and good-tempered fellows. 

I believe neither of them had ever in their lives mounted 
a horse before coming to the colony. Yet to see them now 
following at full gallop a mob of wild cattle, and at the same 
time steering them to their destination, was a sight worth 
seeing ; and although neither could read or write, except 
imperfectly, they thoroughly enjoyed a newspaper or a book, 
when either could be got, and I would graciously condescend to 
read them, which I was only too glad to do, whenever 
opportunity served. 

Tommy was a cockney, and might have been transported 
for picking pockets, for ought I know. He was about the 
medium height, slimly built, with a boyish face ; Lankey was 
stouter, with a round jolly face, nearly always on the grin, he 
had been a weaver in the old country, and had evidently led 
a jolly rollicking life when there — too jolly to last. Both were 
naturally bright and intelligent. 1 enjoyed their society, and 
although they were ignorant, they thoroughly enjoyed anything 
I could tell them in history, politics, or anything else. Their 
society was to me, far preferable to that of an ignorant lout 
from a country village in England who never had been con- 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. 1 839 TO 1 844. IO9 

I have no doubt that had these men, and many more of 
their class, lived under different conditions when young, they 
would never have been transported to a penal colony. 

People in England cannot comprehend how any one should 
be contented in the society of ex-convicts. They think you 
must inevitably be robbed. A convict in their eyes is always 
a thief. They forget what a wonderful influence age, experience, 
and new and more favourable conditions of life have upon men. 
Some of the "old hands" are thorough scoundrels and black- 
guards, such as the better class would not keep company with 
an hour, if they could help it. Others of the ** old hands " I 
have met with, I believe to be thoroughly honest and con- 
scientious, which is more than I should like to say of some who 
have never been convicted. 

Said I to Lankey one day : " If a man stole a horse, since I 
can remember, by the law of England, he would be hanged 
for it." 

" Yes," said Lankey, " the law of England has always 
been, and is still severe on poor thieves, but is mild enough on 
big swindlers. If I wanted a horse now, I should never think 
of stealing it, catch me being such a fool as to do that. I 
would buy it, ride off with it, and never pay for it. Then I 
should be all right. I could only be sued for debt." 

Before entering into further particulars of the life we led 
on the Devil's River, I think I ought to say something about 
its natural history, climate, &c. ; containing, as Australia does, 
so many peculiarities and remarkable contrasts to what we are 
accustomed in England ; and will at the same time be descriptive 
of all the most favoured parts of Australia Felix ; abounding 
in wood and water, and the natural grasses, it was the habitat 
of all those animals peculiar to Southern Australia. The 
eucalyptus, or gum tree, was the forest tree of these parts. 
Open forest on the low lands, dense forest on the mountain 
sides. Flowering bushes in considerable variety. The natural 
grasses of the colony everywhere abounded, on the plains and 
open forest lands, and up the mountain sides ; grasses on which 


all kinds of live stock do exceedingly well ; and these grasses 
are the most luxuriant in the winter and spring, whilst in 
summer, unless eaten down, are dry as stubble, and even then 
the stock thrive on them. It used to be the practice to set fire 
to these dry grasses in the late summer months, then on the 
return of the rainy season, the growth of young grass was most 
luxuriant. In spring, the open forest and plains were scattered 
over with white, blue, and yellow flowers, which, until closely 
examined, were, to all appearance, the buttercups and daisies of 

The peculiarities of the animal and vegetable formations of 
Australia are pretty well known now to all who take an interest 
in these colonies ; so many things being the opposite to what 
we are accustomed in Europe. The acacias I have already 
noticed, and low down on the banks of this river, under the 
shade of the acacias, grew thick brambles, bearing an 
abundance of fruit, brambleberries in reality, but red in colour. 
Red blackberries we used to call them ; and the Devil's river 
was the only locality on which I ever saw anything of the 
kind. The fruit was pleasant to the taste, more acid than the 
common blackberry, having something of the raspberry in its 
flavour. In a country like this, where wild fruits are almost 
unknown, this fruit was indeed a valuable acquisition. As the 
blackberries in Australia are red, so does nearly all its 
vegetable productions partake of an opposite character to those 
in the old country. The wild cherries have the stone outside 
the fruit — a round stone stuck on at one end. And the wild 
pears are of wood, with the stalk at the thick end. These I 
have seen, but only once. They are evidently not plentiful, or, 
what is more likely, I may not have noticed them. This 
wooden pear is a strange freak of nature, of the size and shape 
of a small jargonelle pear, with a rosy cheek where it hangs 
opposite the sun, and the stalk is at the thick end, and the 
pear is solid hard wood. When kept until very dry, it splits 
into two halves, beginning at the point, and between the 
halves lies a flat seed. The trees shed their bark, and not 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. 1839 TO 1844. Ill 

their leaves, periodically, the bark eventually falling off at the 
foot of the trees. All the trees indigenous to the country are 
evergreen, and there is no autumnal change of foliage, as we 
have them. Whatever change of tint there is in the foliage, 
takes place in the spring, then the young leaves have a pink 
tinge, or are of a paler green. One remarkable thing connected 
with the eucalyptus is the strong aromatic perfume which they 
exhale in showery weather. 

Some varieties of the eucalyptus exude from their leaves a 
sweet liquid, which, on drying, falls to the ground in small 
granules, some as large as a large pea, and which the colonists 
call ** manna," but these granules are much superior in taste to 
the so-called " manna " of the chemists' shops. They are sweet 
like sugar, and of a pleasant almond flavour ; I have gathered 
and eaten many of them. Most of the varieties of eucalyptus 
are useful for many purposes, and for fuel. 

We had parrakeets in many varieties, and the yellow 
crested white cockatoo was very plentiful. Piping crows, 
called by the colonists ** magpies," and many other birds, 
small and large, of which I do not know the names. We had 
the cuckoo, which, Australian like, always sang at night, and 
the common carrion crow, and that, in some respects, is unlike 
its relative in England, and its ** caw " is most melancholy. 

** The flowers are without scent, and the birds without 
song," so say the books on Australia, a saying true in a certain 
sense, though some of the smaller birds have beautiful clear 
notes, but wanting in variety. 

One of the commonest birds is the laughing- jackass, 
which seems to like being near the stations. It is the first 
bird heard in the morning, and is called sometimes, on that 
account, the settler's clock. And amusing these birds are, 
when two get together, perched on a lofty gum tree, and laugh, 
seemingly at each other, something like the boisterous laugh 
of a man. 


To enumerate all that is interesting and peculiar in the 
animal and vegetable life of this part of Australia, would be 
impossible in a work of this kind ; but amongst the birds, I 
ought not to omit mention of one which was called a ** wag- 
tail," being in size and plumage, very much' like the English 
water- wagtail, which, as is well known, continually wags its 
tail up and down ; but not so, its Australian namesake, for it 
moves its tail with the same rapidity and frequency, from side 
to side — in accordance with the Australian rule of contraries 

We had snakes of various kinds, but very few ; I have 
been months and never seen one. It is a disputed question 
whether snakes can fascinate their prey. That, I am con- 
vinced, is a fact. I saw one day, a small bird hanging on to the 
loose bark of a gum tree, fluttering its wings and screaming. 
Thinking that by some means it had got fast in the bark, I 
went towards it, intending to catch it and see what it was like, 
not to kill it. At the foot of the tree was a snake fixing its 
gaze on the bird. On my approach, the snake bolted in quick 
time, and the bird then flew away. 

It is also said, that in Australia, it is warmest on the hills, 
and coldest in the valleys. If the words ** at night " had been 
included, the saying would have been a true one. I have 
also seen in a printed publication, that in Australia, the sun 
rises in the west and sets in the east. That, I scarcely need 
say is contrary to fact, and carrying Australian opposites a 
little too far. We had no mosquitoes here, neither is it their 
habit to patronize the high lands. The coast regions are their 
favourite habitat. 

The climate at our station was, at times, cold and stormy, 
with much rain, at other times we had quiet sunny days, with 
sharp white frosts during the night, frosts that would leave 
ice on the standing pools of water of the thickness of a 
shilling. But the sharper the frost, the more brilliant and 
warm would be the day following. On these days the cold 
frosty air would commence at sunset, but with our super- 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. 1 839 TO 1 844. II3 

abundance of firewood and huge log fires, the winter nights 
were most enjoyable. In fact, there is no winter in Australia 
as we understand that word in England. The winter is the 
pleasantest time of the year. 

The summer was very hot, and sometimes we had hot 
winds, but not so oppressive as on the coast, and at Melbourne ; 
otherwise, the nights were, as a rule, cool and pleasant in the 
height of summer. Take it all in all, it was a glorious 


It took us about a week, with assistance, to build our hut, 
we having all the tools necessary, axes, cross-cut saws, &c., &c. 
The roof was formed of large sheets of bark flattened out, and 
an excellent roof they made. The floor was of earth, beaten 
hard and levelled, and the two gable ends near the ridge of the 
roof had two square holes, to allow a current of air to pass 
through during the heat of summer. And through these holes 
the swallows had free passage, and built their nests under the 
roof inside the hut. The door was made of a hurdle, covered 
with a sheet of bark, and held in its place at night with a stick. 
The fireplace was timber-built like the hut, and wide to hold 
good-sized logs, and heaped up at the sides with turf and flag- 
stones, got out of the river. A table was made of a sheet of 
bark, resting on four posts, and in each of the four corners of 
the hut were four sleeping places, similar to the berths on 
board ship, they also being made of a sheet of bark, resting 
on four posts with cross-bars. Each man had his own bed, 
a bedtick filled with dry gum leaves, and blankets. The 
extra bed would be for travelling visitors, sometimes made of 
washed sheep skins, all travellers carried with them a pair of 
blankets, generally scarlet in colour. Our stools were the cut- 
off" ends of thick logs. Should we have a visitor and not 
enough seats, two of us would take the cross-cut saw, and cut 
off" the ends of a big log and roll it in. How we arranged 
domestic affairs inside the hut, would take too long to explain, 
and perhaps be wearisome to the reader. We did manage them 



however. Everything inside was very clean, and we were very 
comfortable. The " old hands," as a rule, were cleanly and 
orderly in their habits, drilled to be so whilst under convict 

It was a sort of Robinson Crusoe kind of life, which most 
boys like, and we were only boys a stage advanced, and in this 
hut I spent some of the pleasantest days I ever spent ; for, with 
all its drawbacks, there was a freedom and independence about 
this mode of life that made it attractive. 

We knew nothing about the miseries so prevalent in the 
old country, its starvation wages, sweating systems, rates and 
taxes, and such like. We, in these our younger days, acted 
literally on the scriptural maxim of ** taking no thought for the 
morrow," a doctrine which some preachers represent as having 
quite an opposite meaning, and act accordingly, with a 
certainty of having plenty of sympathizing followers. 

When firewood was getting scarce, that is, in regard to 
being a long distance to carry, we would set fire to the inside 
of one of the majestic old gum trees, which were hollow and 
dry inside. Soon the flames would roar out at the top, the tree, 
shortly after, falling with a crash. Then we had plenty of 
fallen timber to last us a winter. And when the bullock dray 
came from the head station, which it did about once a month, 
with the rations, we used to have the bullocks yoked to the big 
limbs of trees, and dragged near to our dwelling. 

After we got the hut completed, we made a garden, and 
soon had plenty of vegetables, pumpkins, and sweet and water- 
melons. All these things required no laborious digging, only a 
hole filled with earth, and cattle or sheep's dung. When the 
plants got established, we had nothing to do but see that they 
did not want for water. 

The pumpkins would sometimes be as large as a bucket, 
and if the soil was rich, would be an enormous crop, which we 
cut and stored away for the winter under sheets of bark. This 
pumpkin was a most delicious vegetable, and was of a kind I 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. 1 839 TO 1 844. II5 

have never seen only in Australia, not even in countries 
bordering on the Mediterranean. It was, I believe, an 
American importation, in which country it is used universally. 

Then we made a small stock-yard, got in a quiet cow, out 
of the herd, and soon had plenty of milk and butter. All these 
things we did ourselves, for we had plenty of leisure time. 
How did we make the butter, some may ask ? 

The milk was very rich, and I have myself churned the 
thick cream in a quart pot, stirring with two or three forked 
sticks, and had the butter in less than ten minutes. 

We had a regular weekly ration of flour, salt beef, tea, 
and sugar, much more than enough for our wants. What 
cooking utensils we wanted, were supplied from the head 
station. Sometimes we would exchange our salt beef for a 
fresh leg of mutton, from the sheep station opposite. 

Amongst the varieties of ants, there was one kind which 
built up a solid mound, about three feet high. This mound 
was* smooth and hard outside, as if made of baked clay. We 
used to break open a door in one of these mounds, hollow out 
the interior, and, after destroying the ants with smoke from 
burning wood, we then had an oven, which was heated as an 
ordinary brick oven is heated, then, after raking out the ashes, 
we would roast our fresh meat in the inside in a frying-pan, 
blocking up the entrance. The meat would come out roasted 
to perfection. 

I think I have now said sufficient to show what life in the 
interior was in those days ; and owing to these particulars 
being given, there will be no necessity, as I travel along to 
recapitulate, for life on the stations all over the colonies, was 
in a measure the same. 

One of us had charge of the hut in the daytime. We were 
not particular which it was, sometimes one, and sometimes 
another, whilst the other two rode their rounds. 

Our hut was pleasantly situated. In front of the door 
was a long narrow strip of ground, like a park in appearance, 


bounded on the opposite side by mountain ranges. Our near- 
est neighbours were the men at the sheep station hut, on the 
other side of the river, not more than five minutes* walk from 
ours. Two of the men were ** old hands," the other man was 
a "jimmigrant," a Scotsman. He also was a "Jock," Jock 
Cameron, and, like most of his countrymen, had received a 
school education, and was, at all times, a pleasant, intelligent 

Although we were far away from a main road, yet we 
often had visitors, who were glad to come, and we were glad to 
have them, and we had abundance — such as it was — of 
provender for all who came. The nearest store for the supply 
of clothing, &c., was distant sixty miles, but it was the custom 
for stockholders to keep a supply of such things as the men 
might want, clothing always being ready-made, and at our head 
station we could supply our wants. The nearest doctor would 
be sixty or seventy miles distant, but, unless a limb was 
fractured, we could not see what a doctor should be wanted 
for. We never ailed anything. The climate, and healthy 
out -door exercise were our doctor. 

We had no clocks or watches. Sunrise and sunset 
regulated our time ; the sun was seldom invisible, for the sky 
was seldom cloudy, except when raining, or about to rain. 
The succession of cloudy, gloomy days, so prevalent in Eng- 
land, were unknown here. Should the sky be overcast, then 
the laughing-jackass told us when it was morning, and the 
cockatoos, coming to their roosting places, told us when it was 
evening. Sunday, to a stockman, was rest day, but not to a 
shepherd ; he must be out all days, and in all weathers. 

How did we observe SLunday ? Had a good wash in the 
river, and put on a clean shirt, and perhaps washed some of 
our dirty linen. ■ Perhaps rode over to some of the outlying 
stations, or received visitors from them. But sometimes we 
did not know the day of the week, or even the day of the 
month. After arguing the. question for a considerable time,, 

FIFTY YEARS AGO — 1839 TO 1844. II7 

one of US would go over to the head station, and try to find 
out there. Sometimes they were as ignorant on that matter 
as we were. Then should the question be hotly debated, one 
of us would ride over to Messrs. Hunter's station, thirty miles 
lower down the river, inspecting the cattle on the way. We 
knew that there, we should be sure to have our doubts satis- 
fied, everything there, being conducted on a large scale, and 
with clock-work regularity. 

I remember once being very ** hard up " for a pipe, and 
there were no spare ones at the head station, but being told that 
if I went to a certain deserted station, 1 should find one, and a 
good one, on a ledge under the roof of the hut. I went in 
search. How many miles it was distant I don't know, but it 
was a long day's journey. Arriving at the hut I found the 
precious pipe, made my pot of tea and had my supper, and 
then slept the night on one of the empty berths in the hut, 
returning home next day. There is one thing which to me is 
unaccountably strange, in connection with passing the night 
at one of these lonely stations, probably twenty miles from 
human being or habitation, which would be the case at this 
station. I have slept in many deserted huts, and scores of 
times in the open forest alone, and no one near for miles, and 
yet never felt the slightest fear : and yet if I had to sleep in an 
empty house in England, not a lonely house, but one surrounded 
with houses, my sleep would be disturbed, and I should be 
wakeful and fidgety all night, and rise in the morning as if I 
had been troubled with a night mare : — And why ? That I 
cannot explain. It may be from nervous irritability, to which 
of late years, I have at times been subject. 

The ** old hands " of the colony would take their night's 
rest alone, when necessity compelled them to do so, with quite 
as much indifference as I should. We have talked the matter 
over, and when I have asked them to account for this indiffer- 
ence, they would reply : " What is there to be frightened at ? " 
There is no fear of being attacked by the blacks, should there 
be any about, for they rarely if ever, move from their camping 


ground after dark, they having a dread of darkness, and as to 
being molested by a white man, that was never likely to happen. 
And I would add : th^re, are no ghosts ; this country is too new 
to be troubled with them ; they are plentiful enough in the old 
country, but not here. But the mention of ghosts would be 
sure to cause at once a difference of opinion, for, strange to 
say, the " old hands " of this period were believers in ghosts. 
Few of them were they, who did not remember that in the 
early days of the older colony of New South Wales, a murderer 
was brought to the gallows by the evidence of a ghost, indirectly, 
it might be, for the ghost did not appear in court, but the 
colonial archives of the supreme court at Sydney, still bear 
witness to this extraordinary trial for murder. (See Appendix H), 

Arriving here at the end of May, our earliest experiences 
of this district were in the winter. The winter months being 
June, July and August. I have ajready described the climate 
at our station, which was some degrees colder than at the head 
station. Colder in winter, and cooler in summer. I saw here 
what I never saw in Australia before or afterwards, a steady 
fall of snow, and which continued all the night. In the morn- 
ing there was to be seen a very novel and pretty sight ; all the 
landscape, as far as we could see, covered with snow ; snow on 
the trees, not leafless branches, but in full leaf, as if it had 
happened in the bloom of summer. But with a bright sun, 
the snow was all gone in a few hours. 

My greatest want was something to read, in the matter of 
books or newspapers. To a person fond of reading, it is no 
small deprivation to be two or three months or more and never 
see a book or newspaper. Sometimes, but rarely, we got a 
newspaper, perhaps months old, but no matter how old, it was 
always welcome. Going one day to the sheep station opposite, 
I found they had, by some means, got possession of a book. 
And what sort of book does the reader think? Not a pleasant 
novel, but <* Watt's logic, or the right use of reason." This I 
borrowed, thinking it better than none ; but fond as I was 
of reading, and although I had so much leisure time, so 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. 1839 TO 1844. II9 

little did it suit my taste, that I have taken it in hand I may 
say scores of times, and I do not think I ever had the patience 
to read it for half an hour before laying it down again. It was 
the driest book, without exception, I ever read in my life. Its 
tendency seemed to me to so bemuddle the intellect, that it 
could not reason at all. 

Curious to see how my companions would like the book, I 
spent about half-an-hour or more, one night, and for the fun of 
the thing, in reading portions of it to them. They had quite 
enough of it, and never wanted to hear it read a second time. 

This was the only book I could get for about three or four 
months. I tried the head station, but Mr. B., our employer, 
never seemed to have a .book. What books he had were 
generally borrowed from some distant station. But at last one 
of the men rode in from the head station, and, with a joyful 
countenance, handed to me Charles Dickens's " Nicholas 
Nickleby," all the more welcome because I had never read it. 

N ow we were happy ; and that night I commenced reading 
it to my companions, who were delighted ; but to shew that 
there was an innate good nature in these fellows, they advised 
that the reading should be stopped, until the men of two or 
three stations near us, had been invited to come and hear it 
read. So the next day the news of our good fortune was passed 
round to the stations, and the men invited to come, and readily 
did they respond to the invitation. 

The book, as a matter of course, was always read at 
night, and the hut was full of attentive listeners. The nights 
were cold and frosty, but we always had a glorious log fire, and 
our only light to read by, was the usual one, a piece of 
twisted rag stuck into a pint tin full of melted fat. It would 
have delighted the heart of a philanthropist to have seen 
how these fellows enjoyed the reading of this book. If I could 
have read till daylight they would not tire. To see the close 
attention they gave to the reading, and to hear their remarks 
at the finish, was interesting and amusing also. To them it 


was a real life history, and their sympathies were all with the 
honest and good characters in the story. Two of the listeners 
came from a station seven miles distant, but as all could not 
leave their stations, I agreed to read it a second time in order 
that those who were by necessity prevented from hearing it the 
first time, might experience the same enjoyment. 

After the reading, there was always an animated conver- 
sation on the incidents and characters, before the men would 
disperse to the several homes. 

Thirty years after these events, I passed a winter in 
Granada, in Spain, where the winter climate is much colder 
than on the Devil's river ; where the whole country is at times 
covered with snow, and the ground frozen, and where fuel is 
so scarce that it is sold by the pound. Although living then 
under the shadow of the walls of the renowned Moorish 
Palace of the Alhambra, many, many times did my memory 
renew pleasant recollections of the cheerful wood fires, I 
formerly, long ago, so. thoroughly enjoyed, on the far distant 
Devil's river, whilst reading " Nicholas Nickleby." And it is 
only in such situations that a person can estimate at their true 
value the almost inexhaustible forests of a new country, so 
useful and necessary, and which colonists too often look upon 
as a nuisance. 

Let Australians be careful not to waste these bounteous 
gifts of nature, or Australia in time will become like many 
parts of Spain, a treeless desert, and the sources of its rivers 
dried up. The forest timber of the country, and the snows of 
the Warragong Mountains, will be found to far transcend in 
value its gold mines. 

So strong an impression did the incidents in this book 
make upon the minds of those who heard it read, that before 
I left, calves and puppies, and tame pet birds, were named 
after the characters in " Nicholas Nickleby." 

This was the last book w^e ever had during my stay, but 
its contents furnished for long after topics for conversation. 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. 1 839 TO 1 844. 121 

Our short winter soon passed away, and summer came 
on, but although very hot, it was not disagreeably so, and, 
unlike the more northern parts of the colony, we were free 
from those annoying insects — Mosquitoes. But an Australian 
summer is seldom free from hot winds, some years more than 
others, but they seldom last more than two or three days at 
the most, and we had a touch of them here. With this 
exception, no climate in the world could be healthier or 

At this time of the year a stockman's duties are very 
light. The cattle then, feed in the mountain ranges at night, 
but are always to be found in the daytime in small mobs 
encamped near the river, or the lagoons when there are any. 

To occupy the leisure time we had, we would take a ride 
over to .some of the stations in our neighbourhood on the 
opposite side of the river. Near one of these stations was 
Mount Battery, a mountain of a very peculiar shape, covered 
with grass, and without a single tree, and owing to its bearing 
some fancied resemblance to a battery, was called by that 

At the foot of this mountain was a solitary grave, fenced 
round with palings, containing the remains of a young English- 
man, a member of a family occupying a superior position in 
England, and who here met with a lamentable end. His 
father was an officer in the Royal Navy, and the son had 
emigrated to this colony with the intention of gaining some 
experience in colonial pursuits, and, with this object in view, 
had engaged as a shepherd, and was sent to this station. His 
plan of proceeding, circumstanced as he was, was the most 
prudent he could have adopted, but, unfortunately for him, he 
was destined to make his last resting place at the foot of 
Mount Battery. 

Being one day a short distance from his hut, and walking 
past a tree, a black-fellow, unperceived by him, drove a 
tomahawk into his forehead, and killed him on the spot. The 


man who occupied the post of watchman at the hut, had 
gone to the head station, and the other shepherd, who was 
standing at the door of the hut, seeing what had happened^ 
made off to the nearest station, where he arrived with the 
greatest difficulty, and nearly exhausted, closely pursued by 
three black-fellows, who in the pursuit sent after him both 
spears and bomerangs, but each time missed him. 

I rather suspect, though little used to be said about such 
things, that a combination of the whites in the neighbourhood , 
mounted and armed as they would be, and accompanied by 
dogs, brought about peace and quietness on this river, in the 
usual way, that is, by making a general attack on the blacks^ 
wherever found, quite as regardless of who were innocent, 
or who were guilty, as the blacks themselves would be. 

The murdered man bore an excellent character amongst 
his comrades, bond and free, and I never heard any of them 
speak of him except in the kindest and most regretful terms, 
as a quiet good-natured fellow. 

I frequently tried to ascertain if his friends in England 
had ever received any information of his untimely end, but 
never could, although at that time I knew his name, which 
now I have entirely forgotten. Whenever I have passed his 
lonely grave, it was always with a sadness, to think how soon 
in the spring-time of his life he had closed his earthly career, 
and his dreams of a happy future, so soon ended in the silence 
of the grave. 

Cases of sudden death at all times, and much more a 
death by violence, make a much deeper impression on the 
mind of a person living in the solitary wilds of a new country, 
than in a crowded and populous one like home, where the 
bustle and gaiety of life have a tendency to withdraw the mind 
from continually brooding over the common lot of humanity.. 
But here, although the missing man might be a stranger, he is 
missed at every turn ; and the solitary occupation of a stock- 
man and shepherd, not only in the daytime, but in the stillness^ 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. 1 839 TO 1 844. I23 

of the night, conduces much to serious reflection, heightened by 
the certainty of continual risk and exposure to the same danger 
from an enemy who is most often encountered when least 

No person could assign any cause why the blacks 
murdered this man, for he was never known to have behaved 
ill to them, except his being of that race which they no doubt 
thought it a duty to exterminate when opportunity served, in 
revenge for the wrongs committed by the white man on them ; 
and, I am sorry to say, provocation enough has been given 
them, and instances could be brought forward, of equally as 
atrocious and revengeful murders on the part of the whites, as 
ever were committed by the savages themselves. 

That some severe measures had been adopted to drive the 
blacks from our neighbourhood, I have no doubt whatever. 
During my stay of nearly twelve months on this river, no blacks 
ever visited our station. I never saw one. 

But great numbers used to frequent the station of Messrs. 
H., lower down the river, and these would be all that re- 
mained of the tribe that formerly occupied this district. This 
was a very large establishment, being like a small township, 
and the superintendent in charge was much liked by the blacks, 
for he did his best to conciliate them, and treated them kindly. 
Although a very humane man, yet, in all his dealings with the 
blacks, he exhibited a firmness of purpose, and would not be 
trifled with, and this is the only combination of character that 
can successfully manage them'. 

Although this station was only thirty miles from ours, yet 
the blacks speared several of our cattle, far up in the ranges, 
and threw a spear at one of my fellow stockmen, but happily 
missed him. 

I was always very fortunate and never came into collision 
with any of them, either hostilely or otherwise. They never 
came near our station to be seen, yet it was very harassing at 
times, as we were always obliged to be prepared for an attack, 
and could not always experience a proper feeling of security. 


Kangaroos were plentiful in the mountain ranges, but never 
seen near the huts, and one day, the dogs, accompanying one of 
the stockmen, gave chase to a female kangaroo, who, as their 
custom is when hard pressed, threw out from her pouch, the 

young one which she carried, and left it to its fate. The dogs 
soon seized it, but the stockman managed to rescue it before it 
was seriously hurt, and brought it home to the hut. The 
young of most of the wild animals of Australia are the easiest 
to tame. The white cockatoo when full grown is savage and 
untameable, but when taken from the nest, becomes as tame 
and tractable as a pet dog. This young kangaroo was tethered 
to one of the bedposts, and that same night, freely drank of 
some milk given to him, and became very fond of it. "In a few 
days he was set at liberty, and although under no restraint, he 
would eat grass in front of the hut, and never offer to leave it, 
coming several times a day for his milk. During the hot 
weather he seldom went away during the day time, but would 
lay basking in the shade of the hut with the dogs, and as soon 
as evening came he would make off into the ranges to feed, 
and on opening the door in the morning, and calling him by 
name, he would soon make his appearance, where he would 
stay until evening again. It was debated some time what 
name to call him by. One of the men was very desirous to 
call him ** Smike," after " Smike " in Nicholas Nickleby, but 
as he was in good condition, and apparently very happy, so 
unlike the original ** Smike," we decided to call him " Jacky." 
He would follow me into the woods any distance, taking two 
or three bounds, then nibbling a little grass. I have been the 
greater part of an autumn day, gathering seeds of the gum 
trees in the mountains, with Jacky (the kangaroo) and three or 
four dogs for my companions. On these occasions I always 
carried a carbine with me, for fear of an attack from the blacks, 
but my main dependence was on Jacky, whose hearing was so 
acute, that the rustling of a leaf could not escape him. I 
gathered a great number of seeds here, some of which I brought 
safe to England, and some retained their vitality but not many. 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. 1 839 TO 1 844. I25 

Such was the routine of my life, whilst resident in the 
Snowy mountains, on the Devil's river, a period of about eleven 
months, and at the end of which time, I had made up my mind 
to leave, the colony for England, and Mr. B. having consented 
to cancel my agreement with him, my twelve months having 
nearly expired, I bade farewell to my companions and poor 
Jacky, and I must say, not without regret ; for I had been on 
the most friendly terms with all the men at the head station, as 
well as at my own station, with employers, as well as the 
employed, and had many acquaintances at the stations in the 

Mr. B. having kindly lent me a horse to carry me as far as 
Messrs. Hunter's station, I departed for Melbourne, accom- 
panied by two of the stockmen, one of whom was called old 
Bill, always a favourite of mine, although I have never 
mentioned him before, his duties being at the head station. 
But Bill, although not old, being older than any of us, was 
called "old Bill, and although an emancipist, that is, an **old 
hand," he was pleasant in manner and speech, which was free 
from colonial blackguardism and slang, and a good-natured 

Arriving at the station, we had abundance to eat and 
drink, and at night we spread our blankets on some straw in a 
clean, roomy, empty stable, and there slept, in company with 
three men of the Mounted Police, one of whom, the sergeant, 
was one of the party who treated me so hospitably when last 
on the Murray river. Whilst resting, I amused the sergeant by 
telling him how I had fared after leaving the Murray. How I 
got lost in the bush, making for the Yackond^ndah, and how at 
last I made the cattle station, with the men of which we had 
been so friendly, whilst encamped on the Yackond^ndah. 

" Stop ! " said the sergeant, " I know all your proceed- 
ings. Whilst you were at that station, we received a message 
from the owner, who, you will know, lived there, much higher 
up the creek, that there was a bushranger on his ** run." He 
had been seen in one of the men's huts casting bullets for his- 


carbine. So we had to start at once in pursuit of this bush- 
ranger, but on our arrival at the station, you had gone, and 
you followed such an extraordinary route, not keeping to the 
usual bush-road, that we had the greatest difficulty in tracking 
you. We followed you all the way to the Broken river, and 
then found you in company with your late employer, Mr. B., 
and his overseer, and were surprised to find that the bush- 
ranger we were in search of was our old acquaintance on the 

We never ** let on " how we had been ** taken in," or the 
wild goose chase we had had after an imaginary bushranger. 
We stayed the night at the station, and, if you remember, Mr. 
B. and his overseer introduced you to us as an old shipmate of 
theirs : " — but I had no recollection of that. But, as I told the 
sergeant, I did remember when we were encamped so long on 
the Yackond^ndah, that the owner of the adjoining' cattle 
station, and living on the station, never once paid us a visit, 
friendly or otherwise, so contrary to the custom of those days. 
His men, ex-convicts as they all were, behaved kindly to us, 
were always doing something for us, but he showed himself to 
be a churl, and kept up that character to the last, by sending 
the message he did to you, about my being a bushranger, which 
he must have known to be a lie. 

Next morning I parted with my two companions and the 
police, and saw my last of the Devil's River. No ! not that. 
That name, with all its evil reputation, is gone now — ^for ever 
gone. It is now the 


its^original native name, flowing as usual in its ancient channel, 
but through a flourishing and peaceful district, and to a certain 
extent a populous one, within easy distance of a railway, and 
in the enjoyment of Postal and Telegraphic communication 
with Melbourne. 

Before proceeding on my journey, I think it advisable to 
say something about the men with whom I have, during these 
journeys, been associated. 

FIFTY YEARS AGO 1 839 TO 1 844. 1 27 

I write " men," with a special meaning attached, for a 
woman I had never seen for many months, and the only women 
I did see, were the wives of some married immigrants, at 
Messrs. Hunter's station, where I had been spending the night. 

To the English reader, it may seem strange that I should 
so often have met with companions, the majority of whom 
were either convicts, or emancipated convicts, and yet so 
pleasantly companionable. But there is no mystery about it. 

The large stockholders refused, as a rule, to have in their 
employ, worthless characters. If such were assigned servants, 
they returned them to the Government. If free men or 
emancipists, they sent them about their business. Again, 
these men were, at these solitary stations, isolated from every- 
thing that had a tendency to lead them astray. Had we been 
living on, or near the main roads, and near a public-house, 
their conduct would, I fear, have been different. Rascals and 
scoundrels there were in abundance all over the colonies. 
There was a large floating population, caring for no settled 
employment, and amongst them could be found every grade of 
scoundrelism. How could it be otherwise in a country, which 
for half-a-century, had been the receptacle of all the villany 
and rascality of the British Empire. And I have come into 
contact with members of this class often, as the reader will see 
further on. 

As there were some drays belonging to Messrs. Hunter, 
the drivers of which I knew, going to Melbourne, I kept com- 
pany with them as far. as the main road crossing the Goulburn 
river ; the sluggish Goulburn, for at this place the river is 

Being once more on the main road of the colony, where 
there was a continual traffic, and where there were inns at con- 
venient distances, such as they were, where food and accom- 
modation could be bought, I left the dray, and continued the 
journey on foot. 


There was now no necessity for me to carry blankets and 
food, or carbine and amunition, and money was beginning to 
be of service, but that money, for those coming from the in- 
terior, was still only paper money, paper orders, made payable 
in Melbourne. Coin I had never seen for more than twelve 

Having crossed the coast range, I came to Kilmore, the 
name of a township newly laid out by the Government, and at 
which there was an inn, like all other inns in the bush, built of 
split timber, and roofed with sheets of bark, and as far as I can 
remember, the only house in the township. Here I stayed the 
night, and here I witnessed a specimen of colonial scoundrelism. 
I had now got to where the article was to be found. 

It was dark when I got to the inn, and on finding I could 
be accommodated for the night, I was ushered into a room 
where ten or a dozen men were getting their supper, every one 
of them, to judge by their looks, choice specimens of colonial 
blackguards. When supper was over, the landlord came into 
the room and politely requested payment. Which request only 
gave rise to uproarious merriment. They saw he was of a 
quiet temperament. Too much -so, for such as they were. 
Had he been one of the old colonial innkeepers, he would very 
soon have " bounced " it out of them. But, as I afterwards 
found out, he was only a new arrival in the colony, a ** jimmi- 
grant," and had his experience to buy. They remonstrated 
with him on his " greediness." Did he want payment before 
they had swallowed his pig's meat ? He need. not be alarmed, 
they were all honourable gentlemen, and his money was as 
safe and certain as if he had it in the Bank of England. The 
poor landlord was glad to quit the room. 

No sooner was he gone than a short, squat, dirty-skinned 
fellow, his head surmounted by an old, much-battered, black 
chimney-pot hat, a man the very counterpart of Quilp in 
Master Humphrey's clock, proposed to the company, that I 
should pay for all, and they would settle with me in the morning. 


FIFTY YEARS AGO 1839 TO 1 844. . 1 29 

This proposal met with the unanimous and cordial approval 
of all Quilp's companions. Some laughed, and I could not help 
laughing also, for I had had some colonial experience, but 
never yet had I come across the equals of Mr. Quilp and his 
companions for bare-faced impudence. 

Soon after, I left them and went to bed, stipulating with 
the landlord that I should have a room to myself. 

On rising in the morning, I was told by the mistress of the 
house that these fellows had all gone away without pa)dng a 
single farthing ; but on going outside I discovered Mr. Quilp, 
he was the only one of the gang left, and we had a few words 
about last night's proceedings, and then we parted, I proceed- 
ing on my journey. 

Being only twenty- six miles from Melbourne, I arrived 
there the same night. 

With the exception of a distance of two or three miles 
from the town, the whole twenty-six miles was through a 
country in much the same condition as when I first travelled 
over it. 

Here and there, were a few enclosures adjoining the two 
or three inns, or a solitary station. With these exceptions, the 
whole country was at this time from north to south, east to 
west, a vast extent of unenclosed and unoccupied land, except 
by the ** squatter." 





No change in Melbourne — Black Natives, Prisoners awaiting their Trial 
for alleged offences — Remarks about the Natives — Leave Melbourne 

in a steamer for Sydney. 

TlHE morning after my arrival in Melbourne, much to my 
surprise, I met with an old ship-mate, one of the 
" Hebers," as we called each other, he and his wife 
being comfortably located in a small house of their own in what 
was supposed to be Elizabeth Street. They were doing well, 
and very pleased I was to accept their invitation to stay with 
them during my sojourn in Melbourne. 

In a day or two after I was taken ill and confined to my 
iDed, having an inflammatory swelling in my groin, which I 
attributed to a severe fall from a horse, shortly before leaving 
the Devil's River, the horse having stumbled over a prostrate 
dead tree, and to over- exertion, coming to Melbourne. And 
now I had to have a doctor, who ordered me a dozen leeches. 
These cost me seven shillings each. Not wishing to have 
them applied until morning, and the interior of the house being 
kot and dry, I put them outside in the yard. A slight rain 
came on, and the leeches were for a time forgotten. When 
sought for, the rain had melted the glue out of the chip box in 
which they were confined, and all had escaped, and only one or 
two could be found. They had evidently enjoyed their liberty. 
This necessitated my buying a dozen more at the same price. 
Eight pounds eight shillings for two dozen leeches. However, 
I soon got over this ailment, and was able^to look round Mel- 


Melbourne was evidently growing, but only to a trifling 
extent. The church, which I noticed on my last visit, at the 
west end of Collins street as having been commenced, had 
apparently made no progress whatever, but several large 
government buildings had been erected, amongst them being 
a Supreme Court-House, and a Judge of Assize had been 
appointed. But the flourishing times of the year before, had 
evidently come to an end, and a crisis was approaching in the 
affairs of the colony, which, in the year following, 1843, proved 
most disastrous. 

Money was getting scarcer every day, wages were going 
down, and live stock of all kinds was rapidly decreasing in 
value, so that in 1843, sheep were sold for one shilling and 
sixpence a head, and cattle which had formerly been worth 
£11 a head, sold for 12s., and town allotments were unsaleable. 
. There was no fault to find with the natural capabilities of the 
colony, for they were in excess of the wants of the small 
population. Every one thought the colony was going to irre- 
trievable ruin. Then, was the time for capitalists to invest, 
but I was not a capitalist, and was in a few days going to leave 
the colony. 

Soon after my arrival, I found close to the town, on a piece 
of rising ground at the west end of Collins street, sixteen or 
eighteen blacks under the guard of some police. They all 
were prisoners-in-charge, and had irons on their legs, and were 
brought from their prison every day to this place, to give them 
the benefit of fresh air. And prisoners they were to remain 
until their trial, for some conflict they had been engaged in 
with the whites. 

I often went to see these black -fellows, as did others. 
They were cheerful in demeanour, and gladly received anything 
given to them, such as bread, or pipes and tobacco. I could 
not help pitying these blacks, for I knew what a farce their 
trial would be ; plenty of evidence all on one side, and much of 
it lies, which could never be proved to be lies, whilst they would 
be powerless to bring any evidence at all. 


Who was to tell the tale of provocation they had received ? 
They could not tell it, and I am not aware that they had an 
interpreter. What was the result of the trial of these blacks 
I never knew, as I left the colony before the trial came on. 

Conflicts with the blacks were common enough at this 
time, but the blacks were never numerous. The highest 
estimate of their number in this colony of Victoria has never 
exceeded 15,000, occupying a territory nearly as large as Great 

But the white men had been flowing into this newly-dis- 
covered country with their flocks and herds from the older 
colony of New South Wales and Van Dieman*s Land, during 
the last four or five years, and many of the men they brought 
with them were the scum of the earth, so that collisions with 
the blacks were inevitable. 

The blacks were driven away from their ancient posses- 
sions, their hunting grounds taken possession of, their game 
either destroyed or driven away, and they themselves driven 
back into mountain fastnesses ; the consequence was, the blacks 
sought every opportunity of revenge, killing the solitary shep- 
herd and stockman whenever they had the opportunity of doing 
so, and scattering, and partly destroying the flocks and herds, 
as I have described like occurrences on the Devil's river. The 
settlers retaliated in their own way, and old colonists know 
what that means. Their superiority in their horses and their 
arms, as might be expected, were all in their favour, and there 
were no Government regulations to check these irregular 

Many of the settlers were well disposed towards the blacks, 
and there were men also like-minded, but the ruffian element 
mixed up with them, brought on conflicts with the blacks 
which the kindly-disposed were powerless to prevent, and 
when these conflicts came, individual self-preservation was 
the first thought with all. 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. 1 839 TO 1 844. 1 33 

But in 1836, a regular Government was established, and 
Crown Land Commissioners appointed with mounted police, 
and the law was that these Commissioners should keep the 
peace between the contending races. But these Commissioners 
were few in number, so that the settlers often took the law into 
their own hands. Nothing was done to ameliorate the 
condition of the blacks ; they might live or die, no one cared. . 

The sixteen blacks waiting their trial — and I have a 
strong impression now, that sixteen was their number — were 
some apprehended by the police, some charge having been 
made against them. 

I have endeavoured thus far, aS briefly as possible, to 
explain the relation that existed between the whites and the 
blacks at this time, and much more could I write on this sub- 
ject, if space permitted. 

As there was then only one place for the trial of prisoners, 
white or black, in the colony, all were brought to Melbourne, 
and, as a consequence, conflicts with the blacks, murders of 
whites by the blacks, were the standing topics of conversation 
with the Melbourne folks. They used to read and hear of 
these conflicts in their one or two newspapers, of the murder of 
shepherds and stockmen by the blacks, and I am convinced, a 
great deal more than ever happened, but not a word could they 
hear of what the blacks might have to say, could they have 
spoken English. The blacks, unfortunately for them, had no 
newspapers, yet, notwithstanding that, the blacks, with the 
majority of Melbourne people, who knew little or nothing about 
the why, and the wherefore, of these conflicts, were everything 
that was bad, and hanging was too good for them. And what 
surprised me most, was that professedly religious people 
entertained the same sentiments. They likewise, as a rule, 
sided with the strong against the weak. So much for iheir 

A short time before my arrival in Melbourne, there had 
been a trial of a black-fellow for murdering a white man, and 



he was sentenced to be hanged, and I believe he was hanged, 
I remember reading the trial in the newspaper, and heard much 
about the black -fellow's demeanour from those who were 

I remember reading the judge's address to the prisoner 
when sentenced. How he had had a fair and impartial trial, 
&c., &c., and all the usual set phrases which would be 
addressed to a white man similarly circumstanced, but which 
at the time seemed to me absurd balderdash — to repeat to a 
man who understood not a word that was said to him ; who 
could not speak in his own defence ; who could bring no 
witnesses ; who had been robbed of his natural inheritance. 1 
dare say he did murder a white man. I have little doubt of 
that, and I have as little doubt, knowing what I do, how the 
blacks have often been treated, that ^he had received provoca- 
tion enough to make him do so. 

It was said that this black-fellow whilst on his trial, 
laughed once at the judge sitting on the bench, for these black- 
fellows can laugh, but not the boisterous laugh of a white man. 
Someone asked him what he was laughing at, when he 
replied : ** Cobbra like it flour bag," meaning that the judge's 
head, ornamented with the usual wig was like a flour bag. 
And what more natural for him to do if he had any sense of 
humour in him ? To see a man with the usual allowance of 
hair on his head, crowned with a big white wig on a hot day in 
a stufiy court, the thermometer probably standing at a 100 
degrees. How did he know how much wiser a judge is, when 
crowned with a horse-hair wig ? 

When told he would be hanged, he did not care, he would 
then, " jump up white-fellow ; " "Tumble down black-fellow. 
Jump up white-fellow ;" a mode of expression taught them 
by the whites ; meaning, that when they die, they will 
live again as white-fellows. And this belief appears to be a 
general one with all the blacks from Port Phillip to Moreton 
Bay, in Queensland. 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. — 1 839 TO 1 844. 1 35. 

About this time, the small remnant of the natives of Van 
Dieman's Land, were taken from Flinder's Island in Bass's 
straits, where they had been stationed for some years, and 
transferred to this colony, under the charge of a Mr. Robinson, 


who was appointed Protector of the Aborigines in Victoria. 

I remember, in my school days, reading of the atrocities 
committed by the Spaniards in America, on its first discovery 
and settlement. We can read of similar atrocities to-day. 
But we need not go to America, and to the Spaniards for tales 
of atrocities, and extermination in carrying out colonization 
schemes. And let be rembered, those atrocities were committed 
three hundred years ago. We are supposed to be more civilized 
now and more humane. But the early history of the settlement of 
Van Dieman's Land, now Tasmania, by Englishmen in the 
nineteenth century, will for terrible atrocities, remembered by 
some even now living, furnish as black a page in the history 
of colonization, as any to be found in the history of America. 
What with its convict system, and the wars of extermination 
carried on against the natives, Tasmania was for many years, 
a hell upon earth, if there ever was one. At last by the exertions 
of Mr. Robinson, the few remaining natives were induced to 
submit to banishment from their native homes, to Flinder's 
Island, in Bass's straits', where Mr. Robinson had charge of 

The early history of the colonization of the east coast of 
Australia has its dark pages also. One of the earliest historians 
of that settlement. Dr. Lang, says, writing of the Aborigines 
in 1834. '* There is black blood at this moment on the hands 
of individuals of good repute in the colony of New South 
Wales, of which all the waters of New Holland would be 
insufficient to wash out the indelible stains." (Vol. L, page 38). 
But the darkest pages of the history of the colonization of 
New South Wales, cannot compare with the early history of 



Having so often had occasion to write about the blacks, 
the aboriginal races of Australia, and having seen so many 
untruthful descriptions of them, I think it would interest the 
reader if I gave a few particulars respecting them ; their per- 
sonal appearance, and their habits generally, from my own 
observation, as well as from the experience of others most 
trustworthy. But these remarks have reference only to those 
natives South of Sydney ; they do not apply to the ferocious 
tribes on the river Darling, or those further North. 

The Aborigines of Australia have been represented over 
and over again as the lowest in the scale of human beings on 
this earth, unless it might be the Hottentots of South Africa. 
I have seen both races, and I cannot endorse that statement. 

If an estimate of the blacks of Australia is to be formed 
from those degraded beings, who in my time used to prowl 
aibout Sydney and some other of the larger towns, and those 
which were often met with in the settled parts of the interior, 
called civilized blacks, then they are a degraded race, low 
down in the scale of humanity. 

William Howitt, in his " Two years in Victoria," thus 
describes an encampment of blacks near Albury, on the river 
Murray, and the first natives he had seen. * 

The encampment he describes as a wretched exhibition. 
** These blacks (the Murray tribe), used to be very fierce, and 
often killed the settlers as well as their cattle, but they are 
now too well aware of the power and vengeance of the white 
man to meddle much with them. (Vol. I., page 256). They 
are more properly copper-coloured than black, particularly 
the \yomen and children ; the men and some of the women 
being much darker. They have, many of them, flat noses, 
large white teeth, and intensely black, but not woolly hair, 
but otherwise have a very negro look,'' (Page 257). 

* William Howitt was the author, so well known to the last generation in connec- 
tion with his wile— as William and Mary Howitt.. 

C^WL„=hncd liih. 



FIFTY YEARS AGO. 1 839 TO 1 844. 1 37 

Again he says in the same page : " For with no lack of native 
acuteness and ingenuity within a certain circumscribed circle, 
they appear to possess no organ of imitation, no emulative 
principle, or faculty of constructiveness and progression. 
Amid the wonders which are introduced around them, they 
remain just where they were." (Page 258). 

He describes a black-fellow and his lubra (wife) setting 
out towards Albury. (Page 259). " He had on only a red shirt 
or jumper, she an opossum rug, her arms and legs being left 
bare. She was a tall woman, of a very good figure, but ugly 
face, and she walked, as many of them do, with the air and 
gait of a queen. Many of the women have a firm free step, 
and really graceful walk, and they throw on their blankets 
with a certain elegance, leavmg the arms bare to the shoulders 
and the legs to the knees." (Vol. I., Page 259). 

William Howitt's description of these blacks occupies 
nearly five pages in his first volume ; too long a statement to 
reproduce here, and is a truthful description of their then 
-degradation, for it must be remembered, his experiences were 
gained in 1853, at the time when the colony was over-run with 
gold-diggers, when it was a pandemonium, the receptacle of 
the scum and refuse of all the four quarters of the globe. Then 
the degradation of the black natives was complete. The vices 
a'nd diseases and selfish tyranny of the white man had done 
their work; and the Government which should have done 
something towards protecting them, only made a pretence of 
doing BO. 

My experience of the blacks, dates back to the early 
settlement of the colony, ten years before William Howitt's 
visit, before they had lost their freedom and spirit of inde- 
pendence, and when the white population were few in number. 

Mr. Howitt describes them as having a very negro look. 
They might have, those he saw. But the blacks as they were, 
as far as my observation extended, had nothing of the negro 
about them, and, for a black race, were, for symmetry of form, 


if not for intelligence, far superior to the negro type. Their 
hair was straight, not woolly, and sometimes not even black, 
but had a brown tinge, and none that I saw, had the project- 
ing lips of the negro, nor big white teeth. Their noses were 
generally flat, but much of that flatness was the work of their 
own hands, it being a common practice with them to pierce the 
cartilage of the nose, passing through the orifice a small reed, 
bleached white, four or five inches long, and keeping it there 
until their fancy prompted them to withdraw it. They thought 
it ornamental, no doubt, but nothing they could invent could 
better serve to flatten the nose. 

The black-fellow so ornamented, with, in addition, a white' 
band round the head, into which he would stick, on each side, 
an eagle-hawk's feather, did look very comical, generally 
exciting laughter on the part of the white-man, in which the 
black-fellow would be sure to join. 

I used to admire their speech, it was soft and pleasant to 
the ear, and had in it neither gutturals nor aspirates. They 
always spoke very rapidly, and readily picked up English words 
and phrases, and as readily comprehended, by the help of these 
few words, and signs and gestures, the meaning of a white 
man's talk. 

How many centuries did it take to formulate their 
language, they having apparently no communication or inter- 
course with any other race ? A most interesting problem. 

As far as my observation extends, they were not without 
intelligence and quickness of comprehension. I have gone up 
to a black's fire, where three or four were seated, filling my 
pipe with tobacco ; at once, one or two would rise, and offer me 
a fire stick, with which to light the pipe. How many boors 
are there in England, either in town or country, who would do 
such a thing, or even think of doing it ? 

The blacks and their females do not live indiscriminately 
together, as some think. They are very strict on this point. 
The young men always camp together, and separate from the 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. 1 839 TO 1 844. 139^ 

rest, and none can have a wife (or lubra) until arrived at a 
certain age. The name given by the blacks in the older colony 
of New South Wales to their wives is " gin," but in the Port 
Phillip district she is called ** a lubra." 

I have seen somewhere that when an Australian native 
wants a wife, he sneaks into the camp where the woman is,^ 
knocks her down by a blow on the head, and drags her away 
by the hair. A statement in which I believe there is not an 
atom of truth. He either induces the woman of his choice to 
run off with him, or enters into a bargain with her parents for 
her, much in the same manner as orthodox christians. 

Whatever later observers may have learned, or fancy they 
have learned of the habits of the blacks, there was nothing in 
those habits 50 years ago, to lead to any other conclusion than 
the perfect equality of- the sexes ; or to place any reliance on 
the above statement. 

I had many opportunities of seeing how they live and 
comport themselves to each other, and on all occasions, the 
women seemed to enjoy a liberty as free as the men ; to be 
under no restraint, and the men at all times, to judge by their 
actions and tone of voice, treated them kindly and affectionately. 
They certainly had no religious views on which to build an 
inequality of sex, for they had a religion, although some people 
deny it. However imperfect their ideas might be of a Supreme 
Power, they had a firm belief in a future life. 

I remember in the early days, when Legislative Councils 
decided the political affairs of New South Wales, Mr. Berry, 
who was a member of the Council for the Illawarra district, in a 
debate as to whether the blacks had any religion, said : that 
in a conversation he once had with a black-fellow in his district, 
and he could speak their language ; he was told by him, that 
once when ranging in the forest, he met his dead father, and they 
had a long talk with each other ; and this speech of Mr. Berry's 
was reported in the Sydney Herald of that time. 


Whatever might be their rehgion, they had in it no special 
pet dogma Hke orthodox christians, inculcating the doctrine of 
a superior and inferior sex, and on which to lavish a peculiar 
affection ; an affection all the stronger, not only owing to its 
being a thing of their own invention, but because it happens 
to contradict the fundamental principles of their own professed 
religion ; the Founder of their Faith not having said a word 
about what is to them so vital a matter, neither directly nor by 
implication. But these remarks apply to the blacks as they 
were, when in their primitive condition, before they came into 
contact, later on, with rum, and the civilized white man. Let 
there be no misunderstanding about that. Perhaps by this 
time, what few are left, may have become more enlightened on 
the subject of sexual inequality. 

And to prevent another misconception, it must not be 
supposed that these blacks, with all their good qualities, never 
quarrelled — that they had no wars. They had wars, often 
with the white man, and not without cause ; and occasionally 
their women were the cause of them. Sometimes a black- 
fellow would run off with a women of another tribe, then a 
quarrel would arise, and in all probability a desperate fight 
between the two tribes, but that does not invalidate what I 
have stated, as to their sexual relations. 

I also read in a penny weekly of large circulation, as late 
as the year 1889, that the natives of Australia practice the 
singular custom when meeting, of sticking out their tongues at 
each other, a form of salutation, as we should say : How do you 
do. Where, I wonder, did the writer pick up his information ? 
As far as my experience goes, there is no truth whatever in 
that assertion. 

Their ability to track lost horses or cattle, or men in the 
bush, was something extraordinary, and their services in that 
capacity were often invaluable, and many a man lost in the 
bush has owed his life to their extraordinary skill. They could 
track a man through a wild country, over plains and mountains, 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. 1 839 TO 1 844. I4I 

even over a bare rock, tell the white men who accompanied^ 
whether the tracks were those of a black or white man ; where 
the lost man had stopped to rest, or where he had slept. And 
some of the stockholders would encourage the quieter sort of 
blacks to remain near their stock-stations, for the purpose of 

They soon learned to ride a horse, and were invaluable to 
the mounted police in tracking bushrangers and other depre- 
dators, when they could induce them to stay with them. In 
doing this work, they would not always be mounted, but would 
run on before the horsemen, tracking as they went. I 
remember meeting with a black-fellow attached to the mounted 
police in the Moreton Bay district, six hundred miles north of 
Sydney, who was really a fine, handsome fellow, and dressed 
in the police uniform, and in the pay of the police. Clean in 
his person, and as straight as a sapling gum tree, and when 
mounted on his horse, with a sword jingling by his side, was 
as proud as any white man. 

The police uniform at that time was neat and picturesque,, 
with no superfluous finery about it, nor military stiffness ; a 
loose dark blouse, and broad-brimmed cabbage-tree hat ; a 
belt round the waist, which supported both sword and 
ammunition case, and a carbine, completed their equipment. 
And this uniform suited the black-fellow admirably. I heard 
some extraordinary accounts of his tracking capabilities. 

But Windsor Charley, for that was his name, had been 
trained from a child amongst the white people at Windsor on 
the river Hawkesbury. 

Why, it may be asked, could not more be trained in the 
same way ? It has been tried often, but rarely successfully. 
They will grow up under training to man or womanhood, and 
then join the first party of blacks they come across. The 
habits engrained in their constitutions, the growth of a 
thousand years, or perhaps of thousands of years, cannot be 


And this will be a fitting reply to those settlers who I 
have heard complain that the blacks are idle and will not work. 
It is a matter of astonishment to some of them that the blacks 
prefer freedom and independence, ranging over a country 
boundless almost in extent, with a climate most genial, so 
imlike that which the Indians of North America and some 
other countries have to contend with, and which, before white- 
fellows came and took possession, contained everything in 
abundance to supply their wants. 

Under these circumstances, it would be to me a matter of 
surprise if a black-fellow should take to a white man's ways, 
wear a chimney-pot hat, and become bald-headed, for bald 
heads with them are unknown ; adopt his slaving and toiling, 
and money-grubbing and nigger-driving ways, and conventional 
shams and restraints, professing a religion of self-denial, and 
-doing unto others as they would be done by, and at the same 
time trying all methods (in a trading sense) to cut his neigh- 
bour's throat. 

For my part, having seen the blacks in a state of freedom, 
and apparently free from all care, and enjoying their own 
mode of life, I see no reason why they should change their 
habits and adopt those of the white man. 

And here I may say, that the phrase white-fellow and 
black-fellow, were always the terms used by both races. To 
the blacks, white men were always white-fellows ; and the 
blacks were always black-fellows. 

Thus far I have given my own impressions of the blacks 
as I saw them, my object being to shew that they were not 
the degraded specimens of humanity they are so often repre- 
sented to be, and that when their degradation came, it was 
owing to contact with the white man. 

And now I shall give, as briefly as possible, a few extracts 
from the two published volumes of one whose opportunities 
for observation, and wide experience with the blacks whilst 
in their primitive state, were far beyond anything coming 

FIFTY YEARS AGO — 1839 TO 1844. I43 

within the range of my experience. This was Major Sir 
Thomas Mitchell, an old Peninsular veteran, late Surveyor 
General for the colony of New South Wales, who made, 
during the time he held that office, three expeditions into the 
interior of Australia, and who was the first white man who 
explored in an official capacity, the country named by him 
Australia Felix, now the colony of Victoria. 

These expeditions were made at different periods of time, 
from 1 83 1 to 1836, and his Journals of them were published 
in two thick volumes, under the title of ** Three Expeditions 
into the Interior of Eastern Australia," from which volumes I 
have selected a few of his remarks on the natives he met with, 
many of whom had never before seen a white man, or the 
animals that accompanied him. 

The Major did not find the natives alike in disposition, 
some of them being ferociously savage, whilst others were of 
a directly opposite character, and the few remarks extracted 
from his narrative are intended to contradict the generally- 
accepted opinion that the natives of Australia occupied a 
position the lowest in the scale of humanity. In his expedi- 
tion to explore the course of the river Darling (Vol. I., page 
169) this is what he says : — ** The natives whom we met here 
were fine looking men, enjoying contentment and happiness, 
within the precincts of their native woods. Their enjoyment 
seemed derived so directly from nature, that it almost excited 
a feeling of regret that civilised men, enervated by luxury and 
all its concomitant diseases, should ever disturb the haunts of 
these rude, but happy beings. The countenance of the first 
native who came up to me, was a fine specimen of man in an 
independent state of nature. He had nothing artificial about 
him, save the badges of mourning for the dead, a white band 
(his was very white), round his brow. His manner was grave, 
his eye keen and intelligent, and as our people were encamp- 
ing, he seemed to watch the moment when they wanted fire, 
when he took a burning stick, which one of the natives had 


brought, and presented it in a manner expressive of welcome, 
and an unaffected wish to contribute to our wants." 

In page 171 he says : — " We were now in a " land flowing 
with honey," for the natives with their new tomahawks (given 
to them), extracted it in abundance from the hollow branches 
of the trees, and it seemed that in the season they could find 
it almost anywhere. To such inexpert clowns as they probably 
thought us, the honey and the bees were inaccessible and 
indeed invisible, saye only when the natives cut it out, and 
brought it to us in little sheets of bark, thus displaying a degree 
of ingenuity and skill in supplying their wants, which we, with 
all our science could not hope to attain. They would catch 
one of the bees, and attach to it, with some resin or gum, the 
light down of the swan or owl ; thus laden, the bee would make 
for the branch of some lofty tree, and so betray its home of 
sweets, to its keen-eyed pursuers, whose bee-chase presented 
indeed a laughable scene." 

And here I may remark that the native bees, like many 
other Australian things, animal and vegetable, go by the same 
rule of contraries, and have no stings. 

Eminent as the Major was as an explorer, he was still more 
so for his humanity and kindly patient consideration for the 
natives, and often under circumstances most trying. 

But the Major's humanity had a wider range, beyond con- 
sideration for the natives. — Here is a specimen : Page 190. 

** On one of these open tracks I wounded a female kangaroo, 
at a far shot of my rifle, and the wretched animal was finally 
killed after a desperate fight with the dogs." 

" There is something so affecting in the silent and deadly 
struggle between the harmless kangaroo and its pursuers, that 
I have sometimes found it difficult to reconcile the sympathy 
such a death excites, with our possession of canine teeth, or 
our necessities, however urgent they may be." 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. — 1839 TO 1844. I45 

** The huntsman's pleasure is no more, when such an 
animal dies thus before him, persecuted alike by the civilized 
and the savage. In this instance, a young one, warm from the 
false belly of its mother, frisked about at a distance, as if 
unwilling to leave her, although it finally escaped. The nights 
were cold, and I confess that thoughts of the young kangaroo 
did obtrude at dinner, arid were mingled with my kangaroo 
steak. Reflections arose in my mind on the inconsistency of 
our feelings and necessities, and yet both seem implanted by 

In page 204. Whilst on the Bogan, one of his men (the 
overseer), looking out for ducks on the river, comes suddenly 
into the presence of a native alone, seated with his dog, by a 
small fire. ** The native, finding himself, without a word of 
warning, face to face with a white man, set up a yell, and 
threw first a fire stick, then one of his bomerangs at the man, 
wounding him on the leg." 

The man in self-defence discharged his piece at the native, 
wounding him in various parts of his body, but chiefly on his 
left hand and wrist, which were covered with blood. And here 
the humanity of the Major shews itself. " Seeing the native 
running, bleeding and screaming most piteously," he says, 
** Notwithstanding the entreaties of the men that I should not 
go within reach of his missiles, I advanced towards this bleeding 
and helpless child of nature, with a green branch in my hand. 

Upon seeing this, he immediately ceased calling out, seemed to 


ask some question, and then at once threw down the weapons 
which he held, and sat down on the ground. On going up to 
him, I found that he had received the shot on various parts of 
his body." 

** I with difiiculty persuaded him to go with me to the tents, 
making signs that I wished to dress his wounds. This the 
doctor immediately <iid, applying lint and Friar's balsam to 
them. During this operation, he stared wildly around him at 
the sheep and bullocks, horses, tents, &c. It was evident 




he had never seen, perhaps scarcely ever heard of, such animals 
as he now saw, and certainly never before had seen a white 

" One circumstance, very trifling certainly, to mention here, 
may serve, however, to show the characteristic quickness of 
these people. He had asked for a bit of fire to be placed 
beside him (the constant habit of the naked aborigines), and 
•on seeing a few sparks of burning grass running towards my 
feet, he called- out to me " we- we," that is, fire, fire ! that I 
might avoid having my clothes burned. This, in a savage, amid 
so many strange objects, and suffering from so many new and 
raw wounds, received from one of us, was, at least, an instance 
of that natural civility, if I may so call it, which sometimes 
■distinguishes the aboriginal natives of Australia." 

I may add : How many white men are there who would, 
under the same circumstances, have shown the same thought- 
ful kindliness of heart. 

This unfortunate affair, the Major explains, ** arose solely 
from our too suddenly approaching the water holes where 
natives usually resort. We had observed the caution, with 
which those natives who guided us, always went near such 
places by preceding us a good way, and calling out." 

About ten days after this incident, he meets with some 
natives, who, he says, exhibited ** a greater variety of feature 
and complexion than I had ever seen in aboriginal natives 
elsewhere, most of them had straight brown hair ; others had 
Asiatic features, much resembling Hindoos, with a sort of 
woolly hair." 

In page 229, he meets with other natives, about twenty in 
number. ** I remarked," he says, ** among them an old woman 

with a very fine-looking young one The 

teeth and shape of the mouth of this young female were really 
beautiful, and, indeed, her person and modest air presented a 
good specimen of Australian beauty. She seemed to be under 
the special care of the old woman." 


FIFTY YEARS AGO. — 1839 TO 1844. I47 

Continuing his exploration of the river Darling down- 
wards, he comes into contact with native tribes ferocious and 
thievish, whom nothing could conciliate, and with whom he 
was several times in conflict, in which blood was shed on both 

" The further," he says, " we descended the river, the more 
implacably savage we found the blacks." 

In his interviews with the natives of the lower Darling, he 
says : ** The expression of their countenances was sometimes 
so hideous, that, after such interviews, I have found comfort in 
contemplating the honest faces of the horses and sheep, and even 
in the scowl of the ** patient ox " I have imagined an expression 
of dignity." 

The Major's third expedition was to the river Darling and 
Murray, and made in 1836, and in this expedition, the western 
part of the present colony of Victoria was for the first time 
explored ; of which exploration, a detailed description is given 
in his second volume, in which volume, many are his allusions 
to the natives, but I shall only give one, having, I think, said 
enough to prove the erroneousness of the statements often 
made respecting them. 

In page 93, Vol, II., he is once more on the lower Darling, 
where the natives, on a former expedition, had proved them- 
selves so ferociously savage. Amongst those who came to his 
camp were two young girls. The youngest he describes as 
^* The handsomest female he had ever seen amongst the native 

** She was so far from black, that the red colour was 
very apparent in her cheeks. She sat before me in a corner of 
the group, nearly in the attitude of Mr. Bailey's fine statue of 
Eve at the fountain, and apparently equally unconscious that 
she was naked." 

His third expedition having been brought to a successful 
termination, the following is a summary of his experience 
respecting the natives, gained by long and varied intercourse 
with them. — Page 334. 


"My experience enables me to speak in the most favour- 
able terms of the aborigines, whose degraded position in the 
midst of the white population, affords no just criterion of their 
merits. The quickness of apprehension of those in the interior 
was very extraordinary ; for nothing in all the complicated 
adaptations we carried with us, either surprised or puzzled 
them. They are never awkward, on the contrary, in manners 
and general intelligence, they appear superior to any class of 
white rustics that I have seen. Their powers of mimicry seem 
extraordinary, and their shrewdness shines even through the 
medium of imperfect language, and renders them, in general, 
very agreeable companions." 

Thus far I have given the Major's observations about this 
ill-used race, whilst living ; I will now give what he hjas to say 
about their dead. 

It was when on his second expedition into the interior, 
and when on the Bogan river, he passed a native burial ground, 
called by them Milmeridien, having some of the natives of the 
locality with him, when he says : ** I rode to examine it, and 
in doing so I remarked that these natives scarcely lifted up 
their heads when they passed through it, but continued, 
although I remained there for half-an-hour, after which I found 
them waiting for me about a mile further on. This burying- 
ground was a fairy-like spot, in the midst of a scrub of drooping 
acacias. It was an extensive space, laid out in little walks, 
which were narrow and smooth, as if intended only for sprites ! 
All these ran in gracefully-curved lines, and enclosed the 
heaving heaps of reddish earth, which contrasted finely with 
the acacias and dark casuarince around. Others gilt with moss 
shot far into the recesses of the bush, where slight traces of 
still more ancient graves, proved the antiquity of these simple 
but touching records of humanity ; with all our art we could do 
no more for the dead than these poor savages had done. "^^ 

* The phrase " gilt with moss/' to the average reader, will seem like a bit of " fine 
writing " merely for show and effect, and yet there is not, in the Major's two 
volumes, a single sentence bearing that character. The expression ' gilt with 
moss' is perfectly legitimate and true to nature. Some of the Austaralian 
mosses are of a pea-green colour, their terminal shoots being a golden yellow. 
This kind of moss was plentiful, clinging to the boulders m the bed of the 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. — 1 839 TO 1 844. I49 

Did the Colonial Government of that time, or the white 
settlers, do anything to protect and preserve, in the interest of 
the black natives, " these simple but touching records of 
humanity ? " Although I have no direct proof that they did not, 
I am as certain and sure as I am of writing this, that nothing 
of the kind would be done. This district would, in a very short 
time, be occupied as cattle or sheep stations, and this burial- 
ground, which these blacks would be wishful to visit occa- 
sionally, perhaps to decorate, in their own unconventional way, 
and shed tears over, would be trampled over, desecrated and 
destroyed, and they would be driven away, and by a people 
callitig themselves Christians. These civilized whites cared 
nothing about the blacks when living, and they were not 
likely to care about them when dead, or their burial-grounds 

There is one observation he makes in page 340, which I 
think I ought not to omit. 

" Respect for old age," he says, ** is universal among the 
aborigines. Old men, and even old women, exercise great 
authority among assembled tribes, and ** rule the big war " 
with their voices, when both spears and bomerangs are at 

And lastly, in his concluding remarks, true to the kindly 
humanity which had always characterised his dealings with the 
natives, he urges that something should be done to save them 
from extermination. 

" Some adequate provision, for their civilization and 
maintenance, is due on our part to this race of men, were it 
only in return for the means of existence of which we are 
depriving them." 

But at that time, and for long after, the little that was 
done in their interests was a farce, a mockery. 

The Major's general observations on the Australian natives 
occupy thirteen pages, and are most interesting reading, and 
his two volumes have in them many illustrations of the scenery 


and the natives ; and his pictorial illustrations of the latter are 
the most truthful, the most like the originals of any I have 
ever seen in any publication. Others I have seen are merely 
vile caricatures. 

One cannot keep asking the question, mentally, after read- 
ing the Major's narrative of his journeyings, and his kindly 
consideration for his own men, for the natives, and even for the 
wild animals of the bush. Was this kindly considerate old 
soldier a religious man, using the term according to its con- 
ventional meani^ig ? If he was a religious man, he made no 
pretension to be so. Throughout all his two volumes of 750 
pages, averaging 400 words to a page, he has not a word to say 
about religion. Not once does he use the word God, Providence, 
or Providential, or make any reference to Scripture, or make 
use of any of those customary phrases, so miich in vogue with 
orthodox Christians. 

Was it his religion which prompted him at all times, and 
often in the face of difficulties and danger, to show such kindly 
sympathy for the natives, and even for the wild animals, which 
for food purposes necessity compelled him to destroy ? This last 
being a consideration not recognized as a religious duty by the 
great majority of professing Christians, or their spiritual 
advisers either. 

If he was a religious man, he must have been a heathen 
Buddhist, whose religion has for its primary and fundamental 
duty, " pity and consideration for all living things, not hurting 
any creature," to cause him to sorrow over his supper at the 
thought of the poor little kangaroo, warm from the false belly 
of its dead mother, exposed to the cold night -air, shelterless 
and motherless. And he never once expressed a wish for the 
conversion of these black-fellows to Christianity. Yet although 
making no religious profession, he evidently was animated by 
a true religious principle. He worshipped God with his life's 
actions, by showing both by precept and example, an earnest 
desire that justice should be done to these blacks, and that 
mercy should be shown to them. 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. — 1 839 TO 1 844. 15! 

And here I bring to a close my remarks about the natives 
of Australia, which have occupied much more space than I at 
first intended. 

I have thus far, given my experiences of this new colony in 
the early days of its existence ; when its people were few, and 
and when a man might travel from one extremity to the other 
and never meet with a fence, marking out any portion of it as 
private property, except within a short distance from Melbourne. 
And there were no rabbits in those days, which have since 
become so destructive a pest. 

What extraordinary events have taken place since that 
time ! For nearly ten years after I left, its early prosperity 
declined, and none suffered more than the owners of live stock. 

The natural capabilities of the country for its one industry 
were too good. Nature was too bountiful, and live stock in- 
creased under conditions so favourable, to such an extent 
beyond the natural demand, that its value fell to the price of 
hides and tallow ; and very many of those who had bought in 
the early days were ruined, and every other description of 
property fell in proportion. 

Then came the gold discoveries, which completely revolu- 
tionized the whole country, socially, morally, and financially. 
The quietness and pastoral simplicity which were its character- 
istics when I knew it, were gone. Then it became the chosen 
resort of many honest people, no doubt, but with them of all 
the scum and refuse of the civilized world. 

I can in no wise illustrate the truth of this assertion better 
than by quoting William Howitt. In his first volume, page 
285, he says : — 


" Of the number of thieves in this colony the united con- 
tributions of Sydney, Van Dieman's Land, and the purlieus of 
dear old London, the Melbourne Argus one day this month 
(April, 1853), gave a singular evidence. It contained twelve 
columns of advertisements of stolen horses." 

During his two years' residence he witnessed an amount of 
lawlessness, discomfort, drunkenness, thieving, and Govern- 
ment mismanagement without a parallel. In page 385, he 
says : — 

** There are hosts of thieves everywhere, and not a night 
passes but a robbery or murder takes place not far from our 

And those who feel an interest in the state of this colony 
during the gold- digging days, cannot have a better instructor 
than William Howitt, in his " Two years in Victoria." 

And here I take leave of Australia Felix, these later events 
having no connection with my adventures. 

In many respects I was sorry to leave this country, and 
if I had thought it was the last time I should ever visit it, I 
would have seen more of it, but at this time it was my inten- 
tion to return and finally make it my home. Why I have not 
done so is not owing to a diminished liking for it, but from 
other causes. I liked the colony much, and *some of my 
pleasantest recollections are linked with the time I spent there. 

I know there are some writers who have dwelt lovingly on 
the ants, flies and hot winds, which act as plagues in the 
colony during the hottest part of the summer ! but the ants 
and flies can in a great measure be got rid of, and as for the 
hot winds they seldom blow, and when they do, seldom last 
more than three days. Taking the country as a whole its 
climate was most salubrious, and living in it was enjoyment. 

FIFTY YEARS AGO — 1839 TO 1844. 153 

At this time, a steamer made regular passages between 
Melbourne and Sydney, That much progress had been made. 
The steamer's name was the " Sea horse," and was then lying 
in Hobson's Bay. I engaged a passage on board of her, bade 
adieu to my friends in Melbourne, fully anticipating seeing 
them again, but which I never did. Set sail for Sydney, at 
which place we arrived after a passage of four days. 

Note : Major, afterwards — Colonel Sir Thomas Livingstone 
Mitchell, Kt., D.CL., was born in 1792, and died at Sydney, 
October 5th, 1855, After a distinguished career in the 
army, and in the Peninsular, under the Duke of Wellington, 
he was appointed Surveyor-General of the colony of New 
South Wales, which office he held for the last 28 years of his 
life. In the obituary column of the Illustrated London 
News, for February 9th, 1856, his death is recorded, and a 
short sketch is given of the many eminent services he 
rendered to his country. 



Bf steamer to Newcastle — ^Thence to Port Stephens — Change the Route to 
New Kngland, by Liveipool Plains — ^Arrested as a Bushranger — Stay 

some months in New England. 

I TOOK up my quarters with my old firiend and shipmate, 
John Bnise, who had, unlike myself, settled down to 
business from the day of his arrival in the ship '* Heber," 
and was doing well. 

Many were the improvements that had been made in 
Sydney since my first arrival there, about two-years-and-a- 
half ago, but the time was feist approaching when not only 
Sj'dney, but the colony, was to receive a severer check to its 
growing prosperity" than it had experienced during many 

The price of land and stock, and of ever^' other market- 
able commodity, was rapidly depreciating, and, as a necessary 
consequence, the wages of the labouring class. But, notwith- 
standing that, great numbers of free immigrants had just 
arrived, and were still arriving. About 3,000 were located in 
the immigrant''s barracks, or encamped out in tents ; many of 
them being people with large faimilies of children, the very 
class least wanted, more especiall}* at that rime. But there 
was a great outcry for cheap labour. That was the remedy 
which the employers of labour advocated to bring back the 
6kd |MX>sperity, and the colonial government chimed in with 
that cry, by granting free passages to almost an^^one who 
would accept them. 


The immigrants were kept in the barracks by the Govern- 
ment, and provided with rations until hired by those wanting 
them, yet were obhged to accept the first offer made, no 
matter how disadvantageous that offer might be, and, after 
that, if they should not like the place, or did not pleasje their 
employers, they were liable to be turned adrift to do the best 
they could for themselves. That would not be any great 
hardship to a single man, particularly to an ** old hand," as he 
could travel to other employment, but to an immigrant with a 
large family, it was too often a prelude to destitution ; and I 
have known many stay with a ** settler " for just bare rations, 
rather than leave his employment, and run the risk of not 
having where to shelter himself and his family. 

I had come to Sydney intending to sail for England, but 
the newly-opened settlement of Moreton Bay (now Queens- 
land) attracted my notice, just as two years previous the new 
settlement of Port Phillip had done. 

Moreton Bay, 700 miles north of Sydney, had for some 
twenty years been a separate penal settlement, separated at 
the time by some 400 miles in extent of unoccupied country, 
so that it was completely isolated. But as the flocks and 
herds of the colonists increased, they were compelled to find 
new grazing lands, and in consequence, those in the southern 
parts drove their stock into the unoccupied territory of Port 
Phillip, the Australia Felix of Major Mitchell. Those in the 
north, for the same reason, gradually took possession of the 
unoccupied territory towards the north, until the penal settle- 
ment of Moreton Bay was no longer isolated, and on that 
account the Government decided to withdraw all the convicts 
from Moreton Bay, and leave open for settlement the whole 
territory. This they did in 1842, the year I commenced my 
travels in that direction. 

I had heard much about Moreton Bay when in the 
Southern colony, and now it was beginning to have an attrac- 
tion for me. Why should I not go to Moreton Bay ? I was 


young, and could spare the time, and my going there would 
still more enlarge my colonial experience. I did not expect to 
find Moreton Bay so attractive as I found Port Phillip, for one 
reason, it was near the tropics, and therefore the climate would 
be much hotter, which was most undesirable. I had found the 
summers of Southern Australia quite hot enough. 

Here I was in Sydney, on the road as it were. Then why 
not go ? 

As for the hard times and diminished wages, I did not 
mind that. I had only myself to provide for, and it was ex- 
perience I wanted to gain before leaving the colony, and 
gratify my taste for travel at the same time. I was never 
without money, and if I wanted more, had only to write out 
the request to get supplied from England. 

But if I went to Moreton Bay I intended to work my way 
as I had hitherto done. It was no hardship for me to do that, 
and was the only way to gain experience without risk, and I 
had never regretted having adopted that course. For had I 
done otherwise, I should have invested all my means when I 
first arrived in the colony, and like hundreds more, lost all. 

So to Moreton Bay I determined to go. And then I had 
to fix upon the route I should take, which I at first decided 
should be, by steamer to Newcastle, from there to Port 
Stevens, and through the Australian Agricultural Company's 
land, then to Port Macquarie, and from there, if practicable, 
along the coast to Moreton Bay. But that was a line of route 
I had very soon to abandon, it being totally impracticable. 

Should travelling along the coast not be possible, I would 
alter my course for the Table Lands, away from the coast, 
then my route would divide itself into three stages. 

The first two or three hundred miles would be through a 
part of the colony long settled, where the usual bush travelling 
and making a resting place at cattle and sheep stations, was 
out of the question. Where inns were plentiful, and where 
travellers paid their way. 

FIFTY YEARS AGO 1 839 OT 1844. 1 57 

The second stage would be across the plains of New 
England, which at that time were ** beyond the boundaries," 
occupying much the same position as Maneroo plains in the 
south, a territory unsurveyed, and where inns or bush public- 
houses were very few, and very far between. .Indeed I never 
met with one. 

The third stage was a blank unsettled territory for about 
one hundred miles, until reaching the Darling Downs. Then 
began the newly-occupied territory, which extended to within 
about twenty miles of Moreton Bay. 

In all this territory, the only stopping places, the only 
places where any wants could be supplied, were at the cattle 
and sheep stations, as in the Port Phillip district, and the 
only money in circulation, being paper orders given by the 
settlers in payment for wages, or anything else, drawn on 
Sydney, and seldom negotiable; except those of some well- 
known name of high standing. But I shall have more to say 
about money matters further on. 

Such was the country over which I had decided to travel. 
But there was one obstacle which I foresaw, would ever be 
present to interfere with travelling that long distance, and that 
was the danger of being ** pulled up," at any time by the police^ 
on suspicion of being a run-away convict or bushranger. 

In travelling to the south, I have already related how I 
was stopped by the police, at the very commencement of my 
first journey. That was the first and last time I was stopped 
by them in that part of the colony. But then I was almost 
always with people who knew me, and who were known to the 
police, and whose word would not be disputed. But now I was 
going through a country where I knew no one, and no one 
knew me. 

I was not the only one who was stopped in this way by the 
police. Every immigrant was liable to these stoppages, and I 
should suppose not a day passed but someone was overhauled 


by them. Yet the police were not to blame, but the Govern- 
ment. The police only did their duty. For fifty-four years 
had this colony been a penal settlement, and the majority of 
the inhabitants at this time, were either convicts, assigned 
servants, ticket -of-leave men, or emancipists. All the freed 
men (emancipists), or ticket -of-leave men, had papers given to 
them, which specified who they were, and their position. 

Free emigration had only been in operation a few years, 
and the immigrants were few in comparison. 

One would think that in a colony of this class, being as it 
was a great prison, and under prison regulations and discipline, 
that the Government would have seen the necessity of provid- 
ing the immigrants with papers also, specifying who, and what 
they were ; not so. They were sent adrift through the colony, 
and left to take their chance. 

Such a system as the one in force, would have, had it been 
strictly carried out, brought no end of trouble and inconve- 
nience to the free immigrants. But the police were more 
rational than the Government, and generally used a wise dis- 
cretion. It was not often they made mistakes, but they did 

However, I decided to face this difficulty. Providing 
myself with a carbine and several other necessaries, amongst 
which were a few Sydney one pound notes, carefully sewn in 
the lining of my trousers, only to be used on rare occasions. 
I was ready to begin my long journey of 700 miles. 

A carbine could not be dispensed with, and was far 
preferable to an ordinary gun, being lighter and handier, and 
was a weapon much in repute in the interior ; as also was a 
bullet mould, as we could almost always find lead at the 
remote stock stations, the linings of empty tea chests ; gun- 
powder also, no station was ever without. 

Taking the steamer to Newcastle, I arrived there and 
took up my quarters for the night with another old shipmate 
I had not seen since our arrival in Port Jackson. His name 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. 1839 TO 1844, I59 

was Tom , and he was second ship's carpenter on board 

the ** Heber.'- Tom was a steady, quiet fellow, and in manners 
and education superior to his class ; and so thought a Scotch 
lassie we had on board, noted for her beautiful singing ; for 
Tom and she got married soon after landing, and he set up as 
a boat-builder in Newcastle, and they were doing well. 

From Newcastle I went to Raymond Terrace, a small 
township on the bank of the river Hunter, having one or two 
inns and stores. I was now in a part of the colony long estab- 
lished ; all the land in the valley of the Hunter being owned 
as private property, and divided into farms, great and small. 
Farms which never cost the original owners anything, being 
free grants from the Crown ; that was the name given to these 
grants, although the Crown had about as much to do with 
them as I .had. Colonial lands were lavishly bestowed on 
those who had influence with the colonial Government, or with 
the colonial office in England. Some few of the owners were 
Italians. It may be asked : How came they to get grants of 
land in an English colony so far distant ? 

Those whose memories can go back as far as the trial of 
Queen Caroline, will remember how there were some Italians 
present at that trial. And the way the Home Government 
compensated some of them, was by free grants of Land in New 
South Wales. So it was said. 

The system of land grants in the early days of the colony, 
would form a curious history, should it ever be written. 

Those favoured with grants of land, had also the privilege 
of getting assigned servants (convicts) to work the land. Let 
no one suppose that these lands with their buildings, had any 
resemblance to an English farm. There was a foreign and 
colonial appearance about them. There were no cottages as 
we see in an agricultural district in England, but the workmen 
were lodged in huts, and every large farm had its jail or lock-up 
for those refractory, and the discipline of the farm was enforced 
by summary jurisdiction at the nearest Police Court, usually 
ending with the cat-o-nine-tails. 


The rural simplicity and attractive pleasantness, usually 
the accompaniments of a farm homestead in England, had no 
place here. The most conspicuous feature was the farm jail, 
generally well and strongly-built. I never remember seeing a 
church or place of worship of any description, although there 
might have been, though not observed by me. 

My next day's march was from Raymond Terrace to Port 
Stevens, and the territory of the Australian Agricultural 
Company. But before entering into their precincts, I will give, 
in as few words as possible, a short description of the Company 
and its origin. 

It was formed as far back as the ** twenties," about the 
year 1824, and with a capital of one million, and its Directors 
had no difficulty in getting a large grant of land, as large as an 
ordinary English county, and eventually additions to that grant. 
Also assigned servants in proportion to the grant. The 
Managing Directors, luckily for future generations of colonists, 
selected lands on Port Stevens, anything but a desirable 

Dr. Lang in his early history of the colony says : — 

** After an actual existence of seven-and-a-half years, not 
one farthing of their capital had been expended in providing 
their extensive establishment with the regular dispensation of 
the ordinances of religion. Nor had any clergyman of any 
communion been ever attached to it, although there was a 
population on their lands of from five to seven hundred persons, 
free and bond, and the Arch-deacon of New South Wales, a 
member of the Company's Colonial Committee of Management." 

Dr. Lang, as head of the Presbyterian church, in the colony 
in 1 83 1, offered to settle a Scotch clergyman on the estate, to 
act as missionary to the aborigines, and to perform divine 
service to the white population, at an expense to the Company 
of only /50 a year, with a house and rations. But the offer 
was rejected, the Directors not being Presbyterians. 

FIFTY YEARS AGO— 1839 TO 1844. 161 

** I should have been sorry," adds the doctor, ** if they Tmd 
been Presbyterians^." 

But to do the Company justice, thay had improved their 
management since that time. 

I had made some enquiries before leaving Raymond Terrace, 
and I was told that the road to Port Stevens was a well beaten 
track, and that there was a hut belonging to the Company close 
to the water's edge where the road ended. 

After a walk of about twenty-five miles, I reached Port 
Stevens, a long stretch of sea, and apparently a fine harbour, 
arriving here about two hours before sun-set ; and close to the 
shore, on a low platform of rock, was a hut, but to my surprise 
it was empty, no one living there, contrary to what I had been 
led to expect. 

Where this hut stood was evidently a landing place for 
boats, but no other habitation could I see, except a similar hut 
oh the opposite side of the harbour. Both shores, as far as the 
eye could see, consisted of lofty hills, and still a dense primeval 

After resting myself, and waiting some time, I saw that 
the hut opposite was inhabited, a man coming outside the 
door. To him I cooy-ed to tall his attention. Finding that 
he could hear me, I asked him how I could get across, when 
he answered that I might swim across. In answer to further 
questions, he told me that there would be no boat to where I 
was until after two days. 

The distance across would, I estimated, be about half-a- 
mile. Owing to my expecting to find a regular ferry, I had 
brought no provisions with me, 6xcept sufficient for my 
supper, not wishing to burden myself with any more weight 
than was absolutely necessary. I had sufficient to carry as it 
was ; the articles I had with me being an extra shirt and pair 
ot socks, extra trousers, tea and sugar, some tobacco, a pocket 
compass, and a telescope, all rolled up in a pair of blankets, 
and carried as a knapsack. And, I ought to add, a tin quart 



pot, slung by a strap at the waist ; this, and sometimes a pint 
tin, all bushmen carried, to use for boiling their tea. These, 
with the carbine, completed my outfit. 

Dead wood being in abundance, I made a fire in the hut, 
and having placed a sheet of bark before it on the floor, rested 
there for the night. When morning came, I had nothing for 
breakfast, but the tide being out I noticed great quantities of 
oysters on the rocks below high water mark ; the same kind 
of oysters til at used to be plentiful in Port Jackson, and of 
which, on my first arrival, I and other companions used to 
spend our idle time in gathering and eating. These oysters 
are small, but very fine flavoured,, and were to be found in 
many of the harbours of the colony in clusters on the rocks, 
which are alternately covered and left dry by the tide. I 
know no oysters so good. 

On these I made a tolerable meal, after which I had to 
consider what next to do. 

To try and make the head of the harbour, and so get round 
it, or find it so shallow that I could wade across, and by that 
means reach some of the Company's stations on the opposite 
side, seemed the most practicable way. To do this, I went 
back on the road I came, for about five miles, then entered the 
forest in a line with the harbour. It was mid-day when I 
again sighted it, which, to all appearance, was as wide as at the 
hut. I became convinced that the head of the harbour was 
still miles away, an uncertain distance, and that my best plan 
would be to return to the hut for the might, being far preferable 
to spending it in this low swampy region. 

I reached the hut when it was nearly dark, tired and faint 
from hunger, made a good fire, and was thankful that I had so 
good a place to shelter in. . 

The next morning was bright, warm and sunny, as it had 
been all the journey so far, and I again essayed to make my 
breakfast of oysters, but I had lost all relish for them now, and 
what few I eat were nauseating to the stomach. To go back 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. 1 839 TO 1 844. 163 

to Raymond Terrace, was a long walk in my then weak con- 
dition, so I determined to wait for the boat, as this was the 
day it was to come, and before the end of the forenoon it made 
its appearance. Having taken me on board, it returned to 
Carrington, the head station of the Agricultural Company, 

I was greatly disappointed at not finding an inn there, but 
I readily found shelter and good fare in one of the men's huts, 
telling them that I wanted food and rest, and was able and 
willing to pay for what I had, which they would not hear of for 
a moment, telling me that I was welcome to stay, giving me at 
the same time to understand, that the Company did not 
tolerate any inns on their lands. 

Carrington, I found, contained several large buildings, 
stores, and warehouses, a hospital^ and a chapel. The dwelling- 
places for the men being neat brick-built cottages. There was 
also a strongly-built lock-up or jail, and a resident constable, 
an indispensable accompaniment, as I have remarked before, 
to all the large farms in this neighbourhood and on the river 

This constable met me on landing, and I not having 
** papers " to shew, was closely questioned by him as to my 
antecedents. Who I was, and where had I come from ? Had 
I been ** lagged " (transported), or was I a " jimmigrant." The 
constable seemed puzzled to know what to do, as well he 
might, but eventually let me pass. 

Next day I proceeded on to Strond, another of the Com- 
pany's stations. The country on my route consisted of rugged 
hills, covered with dwarf forest trees and bushes, to my think- 
ing unsuitable for anything ; and although the Company had 
been at the expense of cutting a road to Strond, so many 
different roads branched off to stations belonging to it, that I 
with difficulty kept the right one, arriving that same night 
within two miles of Strond, at a large establishment where the 
Company kept its horse- stock. Here I found the same free 
quarters as on the day before, and payment offered refused, 


one of the men remarking: — ** We have more food than we 
know what to do with. It is the custom here ; when I come 
yout way, I shall expect free quarters." 

Having, ixi my conversation with the men at the station, 
told them of the difficulties I had encountered in finding the 
road thus far, they strongly advised me to turn back, and not 
attempt going any further in this direction, and their reasons 
were : in the first place, it would be impossible for me to pass 
through the Company's lands without a " passport." I call 
the usual ** papers " by that name. And also that the road by 
which I should have to travel to Port Macquarie was still 
more difficult than the one leading from Carrington to Strond ; 
and that there was no practicable road along the coast from 
Port Macquarie to the Clarence river. From the Clarence 
river to Moreton Bay was a considerable distance, and to 
which there was no road whatever. If I wanted to get to 
Moreton Bay, there was no road practicable, except by the 
Plains of New England, on the high Table Lands, where the 
country was all open forest and plains, and occupied by 
settlers, so different from the coast lands, which are often for 
many miles a dense, impenetrable forest. 

I had seen enough already of the route I had come, of its 
difficulties for a traveller either on horseback or on foot, and 
through a settled country, not to be convinced that the men 
were right, and from what I learned afterwards of the coast, I 
have wondered how it could ever have entered my head, toi 
venture on such an impracticable and perilous journey. 

Thanks to the timely advice of these good-natured fellows^ 
I in the morning decided to return to Raymond Terrace by the 
road I had come, and proceed from thence to New England. 
But the men offered to put me on to a nearer road, by which 
I should save about fifteen miles, and at the same time avoid 
having to cross the harbour. But this road was no road at all, 
but only a marked tree line, a track scarcely being made, but 
persons travelling were gaided by the marked gum trees. 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. 1 839 TO 1 844. 1 65 

A " marked tree line '* is a track through the bush, seldom 
used, arid the marked trees are the only guide to direct the 
traveller. The trees are marked by some one well acquainted 
with the route, cutting off a large piece of bark from the trees 
at about every forty yards. I kept the line of marked trees 
very well until near the close of the day, and was anxiously 
looking for some land-matk, with which I was familiar, hoping 
that I might be near my destination, but everything around 
me convinced me that I had got on to a wrong track. The 
appearance of my surroundings was very unlike the country I 
wished to see. Raymond Terrace being situated on the broad 
flats of the river Hunter, but the further I travelled, the more 
rugged and wild was the country ; and small rapid streams 
with high banks frequently obstructing my path. Still there 
were the ** marked trees," and occasionally a path shewed itself 
in the long grass, which made me confident, that if on the 
wrong road, it would eventually bring me to a station where I 
could obtain shelter for the night. Yet I had some misgivings 
about me, as I knew that the Company had so many deserted 
stations on their lands, forsaken for a time oh account of the 
long drought, and my surmises proved correct, when I saw 
a hut and several buildings belonging to it, situated on the 
baijks of a small but rapid creek. 

As I drew nearer I looked, but in vain, to see smoke 
ascending from its chimney, or to hear the barking of dogs 
belonging to the inmates, but all was silent, and on my enter- 
ing, I found to my sorrow that it was uninhabited. Having 
examined all around, to see if I could find a continuation of the 
marked trees, without being able to do so, and although it 
wanted about two hours to sun-set, I thought it my best plan 
to stay there all night, and then I should have the whole of the 
next day to retrace my steps the way I had come. After I 
had lighted a fire in the. hut I began to examine the place to 
see if I could find anything for supper. Pumpkins being 
generally planted at these stations, I looked around me to see 
if I could find any, but could not. If I had, I could have 


roasted them and made a tolerable meal, as they are a favourite 
and very fine vegetable in this country, nearly like the potato, 
but with a distinct flavour of their own. 

However, on the opposite side of the creek was a garden, 
in which were planted some potatoes and kidney beans. I 
thought I had discovered a great prize, but on examining the 
potatoes I found they had not been long set, and no tubers had 
formed on them. The kidney beans were in pod, but not hav- 
ing anything suitable to boil them in I tried to roast some, but 
could not make them eatable. I could have boiled them in a 
quart pot, used for tea, but I cared little about them. Seeing 
that all my attempts to find a supper were fruitless, I made 
up my mind to do without, as I had done aforetime, consoling 
nu'^^lf with the thought that to-morrow night I should regain 
the place I had loft, where I knew I could satisfy my hunger 
and be \\*elcome» I then gathered as much firewood as I 
thought I should want for the night, and arranged my blankets 
oil one of the bunks which as usual occupied the comers of 
the hut* 

It WAS just about sunset when 1 heard, outside the hut, a 
cv>:umon K\m-door towL and on lookir.j;: out at the door I saw 
a wung cvx^k which had evidently been left behind by the men 
At the static^n, wV.en they lc«sook the place. He appeared 
i:x::te tA:«e, I ihougr.t w~hat a fine sapper he would make 
it 1 cvx:»d catch h::n. It 1 could only get him into the hut, I 
cvxf.vZ certainly ^^tx^ure h:ni. To effect this. I got behind the 
v:vX>r. scji:terevi rr.v^uld in front of it, and used mv best 
on.;ea\vni^ t»> ent-.v^e h:n^ in, n:,iking use of all the pr^tr 
nA:r.esi nsxzally arrlied tc^ ihese anin:als. My erocts proved 

«V«%« ^.•'' *■ ^ 

•. . -- -^- -^"'v^inc in I hincevi to the ocor. The 



^ ^ 

FIFTY YEABS AGO. 1839 TO 1 844. 167 

anywhere. He was gone. I cannot say I was particularly 

sorry, I had no relish for committing murder in that lonely 


English readers will wonder how such a thing could be 

cooked, and in such a place. Very easily, and cooked well. 
The head, neck, and legs would be cut off, also the principal 
feathers plucked ; then the body would be encased in a cover- 
ing of wet earth, clay when it could be got, the more tenacious 
the covering the better, then it is buried in the hot cinders of 
the fire. When the clay is found to be baked hard, the inside 
will be cooked, and comes out of its shell clean and juicy, 
leaving the skin attached to the clay covering. It was 
customary for us to cook fish in that way when travelling, and 

very nice they were. 

Seeing that I was destined to go without supper, I made 

myself as comfortable as I could for the night, sleeping 
soundly. Yet I never remember feeling so lonesome as I did 
that night. The wind was high, and roared through the dark 
umbrageous trees and whistled tiirough the cracks and 
crevices of the old hut, and the situation was wild and 
solitary, and in perfect harmony with the boisterous wind 
outside. What object the Company could have in view in 
forming a station in such a place was beyond my compre- 

Much of the Company's land over which I travelled, was 

of a similar description to that I was now in, bad and stony 
soil, mountainous, and extremely scrubby, that is, covered 
with stunted trees and wild undergrowth, and almost unfit for 
anything. The Company had certainly made a bad selection, 
yet it was very fortunate for future colonists that such was the 
case ; that the first settlement of the colony was made where 
it had been, and so exhaust the system of land grants on some 
of its least available territory. If the first settlement had been 
made at Port Phillip, as originally intended, the finest parts 
of Australia would have long since been absorbed by public 
companies and private individuals, and as free grants from 
the Crown. 


As soon as it was daylight, I made my usual pot of tea, 
thankful to have that comfort, and set about endeavouring to 
trace my way back by the route I came, until I should find 
where I had made my mistake, and if not, to proceed on to the 
station I had left the day previous. This proved a very difficult 
task, owing to other tracks and marked trees which I had not 
observed before, leading from the one I should have taken, and 
being too much intent upon them, I missed the proper line of 
marked trees, and found myself lost again, and all my efforts 
to find the road I ought to have followed, proved fruitless. 

I then considered what I had best do, and knowing that 
the main road from Carrington to Port Macquarie ran due 
north and south, I thought that, by steering by compass in an 
easterly direction I should come upon it. Travelling by compass 
does very well in a flat open country, but here it was very 
different. The line of direction being one continual succession 
of broken mountainous ranges, or rather mountainous hills, 
being neither mountains nor hills, but a species of both. On 
these the trees stood thickly together, having the usual under- 
growth, amongst which lay the dead limbs of other trees, and 
great blocks of stone, which made travelling very difficult and 

I continued steering by compass for some time, but no 
sooner had I reached the top of one of these hills, than I saw 
more to surmount in front of me, so that I was obliged at last 
to take different measures, and adopt a course which is often 
done in such cases ; follow down the running stream nearest 
to me. This plan I knew would be almost sure to bring me to 
a station, as they all occupy such situations, but how long it 
might be before I arrived at one was uncertain, the creeks 
making sometimes such a circuitous sweep, that I might travel 
many miles by the side of one, and yet make little prepress. 

I continued in this way until sunset, and yet nothing was 
to be seen in the form of a habitation, ending the day by camp- 
ing in the bush, my only support being a pot of tea, and very 
refresh injj I found it. 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. 1839 TO 1 844. 169 

Next day, I still travelled on, and after a very weary and 
fatiguing journey, ended with the same result as the two days 

The morning alter, I started again on my journey, and 
had walked a very little way before I was obliged to lie down. 
The sun was shining bright and warm, and the little sleep I 
had had the night before, and the faintness from want of food, 
made me feel very drowsy. I had then had nothing to eat for 
three days, which, together with the severe labour I had under- 
gone, madfr me feel so faint that I could scarcely stand, I did 
not feel hungry in the least, but had violent pains in my 
stomach, and found it impossible to travel any longer in my 
weak state. Despair, to which I had hitherto been a stranger, 
had taken possession of me. I knew that such things as men 
being lost in the bush was no rare occurrence, and many times 
never seen again alive, and when found, after the lapse of weeks 
or months, nothing to tell of the lost man but a few torn rags 
and scattered bones, and I began seriously to think such would 
be my fate. A crow was perched on a tree above me, and his 
peculiar and bewailing note seemed to bode me no good. The 
prows are the constant companions of a lost man, or lost or 
wounded animal, waiting patiently until the time when they 
can make a meal of him ; and on that account are often a help 
to those in search of a lost man. 

I lay here for some time in a state of drowsy insensibility, 
when I fancied I heard a cock crow. Listening very atten- 
tively I heard it a second time. This made me pluck up my 
spirits, but I was again horrified at the thought that it might 
be the one I had tried to catch at the old deserted station, for 
it is no unusual thing for a man lost in the bush to find him- 
self, after wandering about two or three days, at the very 
place he started from. These fears, however, were soon dis- 
pelled* by hearing a dog bark, which immediately brought me 
on to my legs. I knew by the sound that it could not be a 
great way off, and without more delay made towards it, and 
after crossing the thickly-wooded creek which lay in front of 


me, I saw the hut a Uttle distance from it. On my approach 
the dogs began to bark, and one of the men in the hut came 
out. As soon as he saw me he knew what had happened, and 
without any questions being asked told me to come in, and 
proceeded to make me a mess of milk and bread. There was 
but a small quantity, as more would have been unadvisable, 
yet I had no relish for it, but after I had eaten, I lay down on 
one of the men's beds, and enjoyed a sound refreshing sleep. 
On awaking, I found myself much better, and my appetite 

The place I had got to, proved to be a stock station, belong- 
ing to the Company, and at which there were only two men, who 
treated me very kindly, and there I stayed the night. The 
men pressed me very much to stay the following day, but 
finding I was only fifteen miles from Raymond Terrace, I 
determined on going that far, my course being directed by 
another marked tree line, which I this time followed without 
any further mishap. And so ended my experience gained in 
travelling on the lands of the Australian Agricultural Company. 

And ungrateful should I be, if I did not, here, in this place, 
make acknowledgement of the kindness and profuse hospitality 
of all with whom I came into contact on these lands. I was 
treated most kindly, and the men who had so treated me were, 
I believe, either assigned servants, or freed men. But they 
were in manners and general behaviour a superior class. The 
Company had evidently made no mistake in selecting their 
men, however much they might have done so, in selecting their 

" Raymond Terrace " is one of the few townships on the 
banks of the river Hunter. How it came by that name is more 
than I can tell. There certainly was no " Terrace " to be seen. 
It was just one of those silly names without a meaning, given 
by the older colonists, or government officials to places, be they 
mountains, rivers, or townships. The steamers from Sydney 

FIFTY YEARS AGO, — 1839 TO 1844. 17I 

called at this " Terrace " on their voyages between Sydney^ 
Newcastle and Maitland, and I stayed another day there, at 
one of the inns, having a rest. 

Before beginning my journey into the interior, I thought 
it advisable to go by steamer to Newcastle, and see if I could 
not get from a magistrate there, something to certify that I 
was a free immigrant. I had never experienced any difficulty 
in travelling to the southward, but there I was almost always 
with people of position, who knew me, and could satisfy any 
enquiries about me. But here I was amongst strangers, and 
should be so the whole extent of the journey. 

This district was also one of the oldest settlements in the 
colony, the most thickly inhabited, and that chiefly by freed 
men and assigned servants ; and that was the distinguishing, 
characteristic of the population from this to Moreton Bay, 
Immigrants, both settlers and employed, there were, but in 
less proportion. 

On my applying to the magistrate, a major somebody, he 
told me that it was more than he dare do, to give me any 
written document certifying my freedom. 

** It is not long ago," said he, ** that Judge Dowling was 
taken up by the police, so you must do the same as he did, 
get out of your difficulty the best way you can." 

I then told him that I could bring forward a person, a 
respectable householder, residing in Newcastle, who would 
certify upon oath, if required, that I was an immigrant, coming 
out in the same ship with him, and that was why I had come 
to Newcastle; but his answer was : " He was very sorry, but 
dare not comply with my request." 

I then left; him, vexed to think that I had come so far out 
of my way for nothing, and again took the steamer for Mait- 
land, leaving my compass and telescope, which I thought I 
should not want, and a few other small articles, with my ship- 


This was now my second attempt to journey to Moreton 
Bay. My first attempt, so far, had not been very encouraging, 
hut I knew when I undertook the journey that it would be a 
serious and difl&cult task ; that I should have to undergo 
fatigue and privations ; my past experience had taught me 
that. But to Moreton Bay I was determined to go, and if the 
police would only let me alone, I felt that I could accomplish 
the journey, but to be overhauled continually by them, and for 
nothing at all, was not pleasant. 

My present route was up the river Hunter to Maitland, 
the capital town of the Hunter's river district. From there I 
proceeded on in the direction of the Plains of New England 
until arrived within a few miles of the last small township in 
the district. Coming from Newcastle had occupied me about 
iive days. Although I had money, I did not care to lodge at 
any of the public-houses on the road, the accommodation being 
bad, and the company at times not desirable, but so long as 
the weather was fine, made a practice of camping out in the 
bush, carrying some provisions with me, which could be 
bought almost anywhere. 

Seeing a log fire by the roadside, where someone had 
encamped the night previous, I thought I would take up my 
quarters there for the night, and after making a shelter of 
boughs on the windward side to ward off the frosty night air, 
I sat down to my customary pot of tea and supper. Whilst 
thus engaged, a fellow;-traveller walked up and came and stood 
by the fire, and after chatting some time with me, I asked him 
to have some refreshment of bread and cheese and tea. This 
he agreed to, and also proposed stopping the night with me. 
I was glad of that, as I wanted company, and I also thought 
he would be able to give me some information about the 
part of the country through which I was about to travel. 

But in the course of our conversation I asked him some 
questions respecting the police located in the township which 
lay on my route, and his answers convinced me that I should 
very probably meet with an overhauling there. But he pro- 

FIFTY YEARS AGO, — 1 839 TO 1 844. 1 75. 

posed that we should start next morning to the hut where he 
lived, which was within half-a-mile of the township, where I 
might remain the night, free from all annoyance from the 
police, and proceed on my journey the following day by way of 
Liverpool Plains, which route he recommended as being a place 
where I was the least likely to be troubled by them. 

Being guided by his counsel, we arrived at his hut before 
the middle of the day, where I intended staying the night. 

There were three of us altogether, the old man, my com- 
panion, and another, an immigrant, a very agreeable fellow, 
and he and I sat up a considerable time chatting on various, 
subjects, until we both went to bed. I had been but a very 
short time there, when there was a rap at the door, and the old 
man, getting up to see who it was, ushered in the chief con- 
stable, who asked, in a solemn, pompous manner : If any 
strangers were there ? And on my telling him that I was one,, 
he put the usual question to me. If I was a free man ? But 
not having any document to show that I was free, the thing 
was settled at once, and after being ordered to dress, I had a 
pair of handcuffs put on me, and was told that I must go along 

with him. 


. Previous to my leaving for the lock-up, a strict search was 
made for fire-arms supposed to belong to me ; my carbine I 
had with me, which I shewed to him, but he pretended to- 
think there were more, and even the roof of the hut did not 
escape his scrutiny. Whilst this was taking place, the owner 
of the establishment came in. There were now five of us. He 
and the chief constable seemed particularly gracious to each 
other. The one congratulating the other on his good fortune 
in capturing me. Then the chief constable edified the com- 
pany by telling them I was the very man he wanted, he having 
my description to a hair in the Government Gazette. Then it 
was the turn of the owner of the place to speechify. Address- 
ing the old man who brought me there, he asked him what he 
could be thinking of, to pick up with such an acquaintance,, 
because, said he, you might have known by his looks what he was.. 


I should have liked to give him a dig in the eye for this speech, 
for his own looks would generate suspicion were he amongst 
strangers, for he was no beauty. The whole affair was rather 
a subject for merriment to me than an3rthing else. 

I knew that I had nothing to fear, yet I could not imagine 
what there was so very suspicious in my looks. My appear- 
ance was certainly very diflferent in dress and everything to 
what it is now. I was very much bronzed by the sun and 
exposure, and my beard and moustache had grown, but 
nothing extraordinary ; I was too young for that. Bearded 
faces were not customary in those days, except with bushmen. 
But after all my appearance was only like that of hundreds of 
others in the interior. 


The fussy oificiousness of the chief constable disgusted me, 
and in answer to the questions he continually put to me, 
evidently for nothing else but to shew his authority, I told him 
I would answer no more, I would answer to the magistrate, 
not to him, and that a night in the lock-up was what I cared 
not a straw about. His opinion was that I might have a good 
many nights there, and with that we walked on together to the 
station house. 

I had several interviews with this chief constable before I 
got my discharge. He was evidently puzzled to know what to 
make of me. I could tell by his manner that he was coming 
to the conclusion that he bad made a mistake. 

On arriving at the lock-up I was searched, and ever3rthing 
I had taken from me, with the exception of my pair of blankets, 
after which, I was shewn into a room strongly secured with 
bolts and bars, where I was to pass the night. This was the 
place appropriated to prisoners, and was built very strongly of 
wood, with one grated window. In the next room, between 
which and ours was a narrow passage, was the lock-up keeper's 
apartments. The door of the prison part only opening half 
way, owing to a chain which was fastened to it and the door 
jamb. As there was no light, I could not see how many were 

FIFTY YEARS AGO 1839 TO 1 844. 1 75 

inside beside myself ; but on groping about, I found the whole 
of one end occupied by the usual plank-bed, and two men 
occupying part of it, having leg-irons on them, and chained to a 
large iron ring at the foot of the bed. One qf them had an 
old coat which he laid down beside him, telling me I might 
martce use of it for the night, which I was very glad to do, as 
there was nothing but the bare boards to lie on. 

There was no smoking allowed in these places, but " old 
hands " like these, generally contrive to get both tobacco and 
a light, and I soon discovered that they had both, as one of 
them held up to my face a long coil of rag lighted at one end, 
which he blew into a brighter heat, to give light sufficient to 
enable him to make out who I was. (Let it be remembered 
there were no Inciter matches in those days). This he was not 
able to do, but after filling a pipe with tobacco, he gave it to 
me to smoke, but I did not want it, I had had my usual allow- 
ance of smoking before coming there, and I had my own 
pipe with me. Then he asked : — " What the devil had brought 
me there ? " After telling him the whole story he replied, 
that some one had been ^^ coming it on me'' (informing of me). 
This I doubted, but he was positive, and that I should find 
what he said to be correct when before the magistrate. 

I then thought it was my turn to question him, and began 
by asking, what brought him there. 

** Why, you must know," said he, ** I and my mate are in 
for murder." This somewhat startled me, and I began to 
wonder what would happen to me next. I had had to associate 
with very strange characters, but this was the climax of all. 

After a little more conversation we both fell asleep, which 
on my part was sound enough, until about two hours before 
daylight, when I was awakened by the cold, it being the month 
of April, corresponding as it doss with our October, the air 
was in the early morning clear and frosty, and our grated 
window allowed frea access to it. Frosts, at this time of the 
year, were unknown on the. low lands near the coast, but I was 


now near the Table Lands, where the winters are much more 
severe, not during the days, for those were bright and warm, Uke 
an English summer, but the nights were frosty. 

About eight o'clock, the lock-up keeper put into our cell 
part of a damper (bushman's bread), and a bucket of watfr, 
our allowance for the day being one pound of bread, and water, 
of course as much as we wanted, ' 

On this I was going to make my breakfast, when my two 
companions told me not to eat that stuff, as I should have a. 
better breakfast if I would only wait. This I found to be 
correct, as shortly after, their friends outside sent them in a 
large supply of beef-steaks and tea, and I was invited to go 
shares with them. This I did, not only then, but three times 
every day whilst I stayed there. My being a ** jimmigrant," 
one would have thought, would have prevented them from 
being, so hospitably inclined towards me (" old hands " as a 
rule are not favourably inclined to ** jimmigrants"). But I was 
now one of themselves, the victim, as thsy considered, of the 
police, and owing to that had entitled myself to their sympathy. 

The early morning being so cold, it was not until the sun 
had been risen two or three hours, and by continually walking 
up and down the room, that I got sufficiently warm. 'Our 
time was chiefly spent in smoking ; occasionally amusing our- 
selves feeding some fowls with the ration bread out of the 
grated window. 

The next day, my companions were unchained, and taken 
before the magistrates to undergo an examination, after which 
they were again returned to their confinement, but ordered to 
be at liberty whilst there, that is, without the leg-irons. 

In the meantime, there were two others sent in to join us. 
One man could scarcely talk, only sufficiently to be under- 
stood. The account he had to give of himself, was, that he 
had had his tongue bitten off, and done by a woman. How 
any woman had managed to do that, was a puzzle to all of us. 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. 1 839 TO 1 844. 1"]^ 

and caused some merriment. He certainly had lost his tongue 
by some means, for he shewed it to us, apparently about half 
of ,it gone. 

On the third day I was taken out, and after being securely 
handcuffed, was marched off under a guard of two policemen to 
the magistrate's office, and placed at the bar. The chief 
constable being my accuser, stood up, and stated that, owing 
to information he had receivedy he had arrested me, suspecting me 
to be a bushranger. That I had a carbine with me, but no 
ammunition, and that he had been informed that I intended 
travelling through Liverpool Plains in order to avoid the 
police. I was then asked what I had to say in my defence. 
To which I replied that it was perfectly true what the chief 
constable had said respecting my wish to avoid the police, at 
the same time, I wished to know why that should cause me to be 
suspected. Would not anyone be justified in doing the same 
thing, to prevent being sent down to Sydney, handcuffed, in 
order to be identified, merely because he had not an authorized 
certificate of freedom, which the Government refuse to give to 
any immigrant. The answer of the magistrate was, that what 
I had said might be all very true, but they had only my bare 
word for it ; that the case did look suspicious, and, under these 
circumstances, they had no other alternative than to send me 
down to Sydney. And with that I was marched back to the 

This was really to me a disagreeable business. To be 
marched down to Sydney, instead of progressing in my journey. 
And the manner in which suspected persons were forwarded 
down, being the most humiliating to anyone who had any self- 
respect left in him. Each person being handcuffed to a chain, 
and then forwarded from one lock-up to another, till arrived in 
Sydney. And then, should the authorities not be able to 
identify them with any run-away convict, or other person 
illegally at large, they were set at liberty, without any recom- 
pense or compensation whatever. Such was the law in those 



The prospect of my journey to Sydney, the inconvenience 
and loss of time it would put me to, were occupying my whole 
thoughts, when I was interrupted by one of my old beef-steak- 
and-tea companions, wha said, on hearing the result of my 
trial : " I told you, I told you, some fellow had been * coming 
it ' on you, and that old fellow who took you to his hut was 
the one who did it !" And I believe he was right. According 
to the evidence, it could be no other. And that man was a 
Scotsman ; the only one of his nation in the colony who served 
me a treacherous trick, and I met with hundreds. There is that 
much to the credit of the nationality. 

As our conversation was going on, the lock-up keeper put in 
his head through the door-way, and told me that the magistrates 
wanted to speak to me ; the purport of their visit being : that 
they had reconsidered their verdict passed upon me, and had 
decided to set me at liberty. 

This imprisonment had taught me a lesson which I did 
not fail to profit by. On thinking the matter over, and also 
from what one of the magistrates told me, I came to the con- 
clusion that I had myself to blame for being imprisoned at all. 
Had I gone straight on my travels, without asking so many 
cautious questions about the poUce, a hundred to one if I 
should have been interfered with. 

This advice I saw the wisdom of following, and in con- 
sequence this was my first imprisonment and the last. I was 
never troubled by the police again to cause me annoyance. — 
See Appendix /. 

I was now once more with the cheerful blue sky over me, 
and enjoying the glorious privilege of minding my own business, 
and following the bent of my inclinations. 

After purchasing provisions and some ammunition in the 
to^vnship, I set off at once on my journey to Liverpool Plains, 
sta)ring at a road side inn that night, the last (I think it was) 
that I met with, until arrived within a short distance of 

FIFTY YEABS AGO. 1 839 TO 1 844. I79 

Moreton Bay, which journey occupied me some months ; and 
in two days more I had crossed the Liverpool range, and had 
the open plains in front of me. 

My intention at that time was to proceed to the Nammoy 
and Gwydir rivers, and from there to the Darling Downs, but 
ultimately had to change that route to some extent. Nothing 
could present a more dreary picture than these Liverpool 
Plains, which, when first discovered, were an immense rolling 
prairie, covered with luxuriant grass, but now, as far as the eye 
could reach, owing to a long drought ; a dreary desert without 
a single tree, or scarcely a blade of grass, or a living thing to 
be seen or heard, to break the monotony of it, and presented a 
striking contrast, to the flowery plains I had so recently left in 
the Southern colony ; but all the upper Hunter, through which 
I had travelled, although not so desolate as the plains, was at 
this time, parched and dry, and most unpicturesque, 

I had not found water since leaving my lodgings in the 
morning, neither was there any likelihood of my doing so. The 
day had been particularly warm for the time of the year, and I was 
parched with thirst, but could find nothing to relieve it, except 
by chewing the leaves of the wild sorrel, which seemed to be 
the only green thing growing in this arid region. But as night 
came on, I found the bed of a deep water-hole, in the bottom 
of which was a small quantity of water, muddy, and almost 
unfit to drink, yet I was glad to get that. 

Round the sides of the water-hole were the decayed 
skeletons of dead cattle which had come down to drink, and, 
being weak from want of food, had stuck fast in the soft 
ground and then died. Amongst them was a dead calf, which, 
from its appearance, had not been there long. Being under 
the necessity of staying there all night, I gathered together a 
lot of firewood, for, fortunately, there was one dead tree near, 
made a fire, with which I was able to boil a pot of tea, and 
with that, and a piece of bread, I made my supper. 


Before lying down to rest, I was startled by the approach 
of a man out of the darkness towards my fire. So silent had 
been his approach, that I half imagined him to be a "being" of 
another world, or the presiding genius of this desolate region, 
had not a pair of scarlet blankets, which he had thrown over 
his shoulders, and the cabbage-tree hat he wore, undeceived 
me, and convinced me that I was still amongst stern realities. 
I wished him ** good evening," and asked him how far he had 
come, but not a word did he speak. I then thought that 
probably he might be in want of water, so I went and got hitn 
some, which he greedily took and drank. He was some 
minutes before he spoke, when he told me that he had been 
travelling across the plains, and had been two days without 
water or anything to eat. 

On hearing this I boiled him a pot of tea, and gave him a 
small piece of bread, which I had still remaining with me, 
reserving to myself a remnant for breakfast in the morning. 
He seemed greatly revived after his meal, and we soon became 
more intimate, and conversation became more lively as we 
smoked our pipes and discussed the affairs of Liverpool Plains. 

He gave me a terrible description of the country through 
which I intended to travel, and advised me, above all things, 
not to attempt it, being an old traveller there himself; 
describing it as one continual, dreary, waterless desert, where 
the traveller would meet with nothing but sterility, and 
scarcely encounter the face of a single human being, the stock 
stations in that direction being all deserted. 

My only plan, according to him, was to make for the table 
lands of New England, and as I was at present but a little 
way out of the direct road, it would not inconvenience me 
much to change my route. 

During the night I was awakened by hearing my fellow- 
traveller rummaging about, and on enquiring of him what was 
the matter, he told me that he felt so dreadfully hungry that 

FIFTY YEARS AGO 1 839 TO 1 844. 181 

he intended cutting a steak from the rump of the dead calf, 
and roast it on the fire to satisfy his hunger. I told 
him I thought he would not like it, but he soon 
satisfied me of that by going down to the water-hole, and 
returning soon after with some pieces of meat in his hand, 
which, after he had frizzled them on the coals, he ate, and 
apparently with much relish. He tried to persuade me to 
have some, but to no purpose, as I did not feel particularly 
hungry. If I had, I expect I should have relished the 
unsavoury looking food quite as much as he did. 

In the morning we had each of us a pot of tea, and then 
parted, he going the way I had come the day before, whilst I 
took another direction towards the Peel river, at the Agricul- 
tural Company's principal station there, for they had land in 
that locality. * 

Whilst I was on the Liverpool ranges, a large brown 
snake suddenly started up in front of me, and I, unthinkingly, 
struck at it with the but end of my carbine, breaking the stock 
in two. This accident vexed me much, as I could not tell 
how, or where I could get another ; as to getting it mended, 
was out of all question, but, however, on my arrival at the 
** station " on the Peel river, on finding I could not make more 
advantageous terms, I exchanged the broken carbine for a dog. 

I was now minus a most important requisite, one which 
could not, further in the interior, be dispensed with, and must 
be got, sooner or later, somewhere. 

My dog proved a very good one, either for working cattle 
or sheep, and, next to my gun, stood first in my estimation. 

The sheep dogs, common in this part of the colony, were 
not at all like the same animals we see at home. They were 
in form more like a small spanial, having soft silky hair, and the 

* The Peel river has its source in the Liverpool range of mountains, it afterwards 
joins the Nammoy, and both become affluents to the Barwon and river Darling. 
The native name of the Peel is Oallala. 


way they would circle round a flock of sheep, spread over as 
much as, perhaps, a square mile of ground, was something won- 
derful. This dog was a very faithful animal, and we never parted 
from each other, until I left the colony ; and a dog is such a 
companion to a lonely traveller, and so useful in various ways, 
and a necessity if one has to undertake the management of 


either sheep or cattle. 

Having recruited myself at the Company's station, on the 
Peel river, where I was most hospitable treated, and having 
been able to supply myself with several necessaries I was in 
want of, at their stores ; I proceeded on my journey toward New 
England, where I arrived in a few days, without anything 
material having happened to me, finding a good and well-beaten 
bush road, but ** stock stations " a long day's journey apart. 

The plains of New England are a series of Table lands, 
3,000 feet above sea level, commencing not far from the Peel 
river, and continuing in varied succession, almost to the 
Darling Downs, an out-ljdng track of country adjoining More- 
ton Bay. 

The further I travelled on these Table lands, the more 
did the country improve in appearance, being fine open forest^ 
and a succession of plains of every variety and size* 
Water was also abundant, and although there were very 
few running streams, the want of them was amply compensated 
by chains of ponds, and large lagoons brimful of clear water. 

A lagoon, I may observe, is a sheet of water, much smaller 
than a lake, and much larger than a pond. Mid-winter was 
approaching, it being the month of May, corresponding to 
November in the Northern Hemisphere, and I found the 
climate very cold, colder I think than on Maneroo Plains in the 
south, not only cold during the night, but in the daytime also. 
During the winter, all the smaller water-holes would be iced 
over, half-an-inch or more deep. The altitude of the sun was 
considerable, and if there was no wind, the days were delight- 

FIFTY YEARS AGO — 1 839 TO 1 844. 1 85 

fully warm, but as a rule, during the winter, strong winds blew 
from the north-west until sun-set, when they almost always 
died away, the nights being calm and frosty. 

But I had, up to this time, been able to find quarters at 
some stock stations every night, and at one of these stations I 
was asked to engage as a shepherd for a limited time, during 
the absence from illness of one of the men. I was not 
particularly fond of a shepherd's life, yet gladly accepted 
the offer, for in doing so, I should be getting over the winter, 
and a rest at the same time. • 

The duties of a shepherd I have already commented upon. 
The only objection I could have to those duties was its lone- 
someness, and its being so inactive and lazy a life, for there is 
absolutely, in the winter season, nothing to do but let the sheep 
spread over the plains and open forest, and see that nothing 
molests or interferes with them. Sheep want no directing 
where to go, and they know their favourite feeding grounds, 
and as night approaches they will of themselves draw towards 
the folding yard, which having entered, the shepherd's work is 
done, and the watchman's work begins. The shepherd's dog 
is the worker, should work be wanted to be done. 

The shepherding of a flock of sheep was an occupation any 
man might undertake, no matter if he had never done a day's 
work in his life ; and it had this advantage, that it was a sure 
resource to fly to for the great number of broken-down gentle- 
men, lawyers, and " swell coves out of luck," which are always 
so numerous in a new country, without there being anything in 
the occupation that could be considered menial or offensive to 
their gentility. Many there are, who, on their first arrival in 
the colony, would be most indignant at the bare thought of 
such an employment, but fortune plays such strange pranks 
with many of them, that they frequently find themselves follow- 
ing a flock of sheep before they have been six months in the 
colony. I have myself, been eye-witness, not only to lawyers 


and doctors being transformed into shepherds, but have, at 
diflferent times and places, seen a Church of England clergy- 
man, and a Lieutenant in the Hon. East India Company's 
service; and one young man who came to the colony with 
£5000, all following the same occupation, and with the excep- 
tion of the unfortunate clergyman, all cheerful and apparently 
reconciled to their lot, buoyed up, no doubt, with hopes of 
better times. 

The high rate of wages paid for all kinds of labour, in 
my early colonial experience, had gone down considerably, but 
in this out-of-the-way place, wages were higher than at such a 
place as the Hunter's river. But I cared little about wages, 
except to purchase necessaries and a gun ; that, and to get 
over the winter, which I did, tolerably well. 

At the expiration of my time, I once more made a move in 
the direction of Moreton Bay, being supplied with all the 
necessaries I wanted, but unfortunately, not with a gun, no gun 
was to be had for love or money. 

Having been informed that the main road to Moreton Bay, 
lay to the west of New England, on the Bundarra river, and 
the most practicable one, I determined to steer for that road, 
thinking that I might be fortunate in meeting with an overland 
party going in that direction, as I had formerly done to Port 
Phillip ; but I was disappointed in that, the days for overland 
parties were over. To get to the Bundarra, I had to cross the 
country where there was no road, steering due west, and, not- 
withstanding the distance was estimated to be fifty miles, I 
succeeded in finding it, and the main road without much 
difficulty. * 

The road was a good, wide, well-beaten track, leading due 
north, the direction I wanted to go ; but stations were very 
few. However, after travelling three or four days I came to 

* The Bundarra rises in the Nunda war Range, and afterwards joins the Gwydir, 
flowing westward to the river Darling. The pie of Tangulda is a " spur" from 
the Nundawar range. 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. 1 839 TO 1 844. 1 85 

a station, and was surprised beyond measure to find it occupied 
by an old fellow-passenger and his wife, on the voyage out. 

They knew me directly, and gave me a cordial welcome, 
and finding myself in good quarters, I stayed with them two 
<iays. They were greatly surprised to see me travelling in that 
<iirection without fire-arms, and strongly advised me not to go 
a step further without a gun or carbine, but that was an im- 
possibility. I would have bought a carbine, and given a good 
price for one, but there was none to buy, and he had not one 
of his own which he could spare. 

On leaving my shipmate, I went, by his advice, in a north- 
easterly direction, towards the head of the Clarence river. I 
was now about 400 miles north of Sydney, and near the borders 
of the Moreton Bay district (now Queensland), which I hoped 
soon to be able to enter, but I needed several things, and, above 
all, fire-arms of some sort ; without the last, it would have been 
madness to go further. 

It was now the spring-time of the year, what month I do 
not remember. So to obtain a rest, and wait my opportunity 
to cross the border, I engaged with a Mr. Nichols, who 
superintended a small sheep establishment for a gentleman in 

My occupation was that of watchman, my duties being to 
take charge of the sheep at night, another lazy occupation, 
and with the same proportion of solitude attached to it. 

I had only one companion, an old shepherd, with whom I 
agreed very well, and he, at this time, was fully employed, as 
the lambing season was on, and he had the management of a 
large flock of ewes, which required an amount of skill, care 
and attention, far greater than the usual work of a shepherd. 
He was a man of quiet habits, good sound sense, and in- 
telligent, and had been in the colony many years, was an " old 
hand," and a great^ favourite with Mr. Nichols, and was, in 
every respect, from what I saw of him, an honest man, atten- 


tive to his duties, and trustworthy. Such sort of man was John 
the shepherd ; I never knew his surname. 

I spent some pleasant days here. The tract of country we 
occupied was a most desirable one for a stock station, and the 
pleasantest in appearance I had yet seen, north of Sydney. 
Grassy plains, and open forest, that was its characteristic, and 
the plains were covered with a profusion of flowers, the pre- 
vailing colours being white and yellow, which, until minutely ' 
examined, would readily be taken for the buttercups and daisies 
of old England, yet were entirely different in their structure, 
being, like many more of the flowers of Australia, of the class 
called everlasting. We had also an excellent supply of water 
in a series of large rocky lagoons, some being like the long 
reaches of a broad river, and water the purest and clearest. 
And, considering the latitude of the locality, the temperature 
was not disagreeably warm. 

I and the old shepherd lived together in a bark gunyah on 
the margin of one of these rocky lagoons. 

His business in the daytime was to attend to his ewes and 
lambs, spread over the open country, and mine was to shift the 
hurdles every morning on to clean ground, for the sheep to be 
folded in at night, and to sleep in another bark gunyah by the 
side of them, during which time a log fire is always kept burning, 
round which the dogs of the station were sure to congregate, 
and they were the real watchmen. 

Dogs were a necessity, to keep off the wild native dogs or 
dingoes, which otherwise would ** rush " the sheep fold and 
destroy and scatter the sheep. 

This was what a watchman had to do, unless he cooked 
for the shepherd and himself, which I always did, as I always, 
at all places, preferred my own cooking. 

John, the shepherd, having a nice light fowling piece, I 
used to take it out in the daytime, when I had done my work^ 
which I could at any time do in two or three hours, and ramble 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. 1 839 TO 1 844. 18/ 

into the bush, accompanied by the dogs ; not for sporting purposes,^ 
but for safety, in case of a sudden attack by the blacks, for at 
this time, an attack by them was within the possibiUties ; yet 
there was an abundance of game, such as pigeons, quail and 
ducks, and also at times, kangaroos and wallaby were to be 
met with, but not often ; for seldom was it we got sight of a 
kangaroo, at any time, in any place, during all my sojourn in 
the colonies. So diflferent from then, and now. For so numerous 
have kangaroos become in this district, and all the district of 
Moreton Bay, that they are now a " pest " like the rabbits in the 
southern colony, and are systematically destroyed at the cost 
of the colonial Government. Parrots and parroquets were also 
very numerous, also the white cockatoo, and many other 
beautiful pliunaged birds besides. We had also the colonial 
magpie, or piping crow, and the laughing-jackass, birds seldom 
absent from a station. 

It has been said that the birds of Australia are without 
-song, and the flowers without scent, which in a general sense 
may be true, but not in. all instances, as the notes of some of 
the Australian birds, are particularly rich and pleasing, and do 
not fail to interest and delight either the permanent resident or 
the passing traveller. It is chiefly in the singularity of their 
notes, and the beauty of their plumage, for which the birds of 
Australia are so conspicuous. We had trumpeting from the 
native companion ; screaming from the cockatoo ; and the bell- 
bird, whose note is like the tinkling of a small bell, and always 
near water. Then we had the very loud, and oft-repeated cry 
of the swamp pheasant, and the peculiar sharp cry of the 
plover, and the dismal wailing of the curlew. AH these last 
get their names from some fancied resemblance to the birds of 
Europe. The cry of the curlew is only to he heard in the night 
time, and to the benighted traveller, as he sits by his lonely 
bush fire, nothing can be more startling, than the sudden cry 
from out of the solitude, of these birds. In writing this, I try 
to call to mind this wailing note, but cannot now. I remember 
this much, it was a note repeated, rising from a lower to a 


higher key. It was a peculiar cry, wailing I call it, yet it was 

not unmusical. 

I have already, in previous chapters, remarked upon the 

peculiarities of the birds of Australia. But there was one bird 
in this district I had never before noticed, as I did here, that is 
the " native companion," or Australian crane. The habits of 
these birds are very peculiar, when they can be observed, which 
is seldom, as they are extremely shy and wary, and cannot be 
approached except very quietly and cautiously, but if the 
observer should be so fortunate as to come within view of a 
flock of them, they are sure to amuse and interest him, espe- 
cially when they are performing a ** corroboree," of which per- 
formance I have seen a description in a late publication, and I 
cannot describe it better. This writer says : " Th^ native 
companion is the only one of the crane species found in 
Australia. It is grey in colour, and stands about four feet high. 
Its habits are gregarious. A whole flock of these birds will 
assemble in an open space, and perform the most astonishing 
antics ; at first, perhaps the general body will form in a circle, 
apparently as spectators, while one or two will dance in the 
centre, then, all of a sudden, the spectators join in the measure, 
each one setting to his next neighbour, and skipping about in 
the most ludicrous manner, varied by bows and scrapes ; again 
the circle is formed, and more performances go on, as much to 
the seeming enjoyment of the birds, as of the human unseen 
spectator, until at last, frightened by some noise, the assembly 
separate like fashionable Londoners. The native companions 
prefer the evening or early morning for these entertainments." 

The summer nights at times were very calm and quiet, 
the silence only occasionally broken by the melancholy howl of 
the native dog, or, at long intervals, by the cry of the curlew, 
and the gambols of the opossum and flying squirrels in the 
trees overhead. But if we had had rain, then the frogs, which 
in the dry season are silent, or nearly so, would hold their 
revelry, apparently in thousands, on the margins of the lagoons 
and swamps, if there were any ; their croaking being of every 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. — 1 839 TO 1 844. 1 89 

diversity of tone, from a simple croak to bell-like sounds, and 
other sounds as if from the pipe of an organ, sounds so peculiar 
that it is difficult to believe that frogs make them. This frog's 
performance takes place during the night, only an occasional 
croak being heard in the daytin\^. 

The vegetation of this district is very similar to that on 
the high lands in other parts of Australia, the prevailing trees 
being the gum, or eucalyptus in variety, for some of them vary 
much in their character. But the district, as a whole, with its 
genial climate and abundance of rain, was favourable to their 
growth, and the trees displayed a luxuriance of foliage much 
superior to that which is the characteristic of extensive tracts 
of country in some parts of the Australian continent where the 
soil is sterile or gravelly. 

Here also was the manna tree, another variety of the 
eucalyptus, and that other variety called by the colonists the 
apple tree, with leaves of a very bright green, having a general 
resemblance to the apple tree of England, hence its name, but 
here the resemblance ceased, for it never bore apples. But the 
tree possessed a property which I had not before discovered, 
until shewn to me by John the shepherd. After a hole has 
been cut in the trunk, a considerable quantity of a clear watery 
fluid oozes out, which tastes very like cider and is drinkable, 
another instance of the strange freaks in which Nature indulges 
in Australia ; an apple tree, extremely like its namesake in the 
old country, but instead of producing apples it produces cider. * 

Like other parts of Australia, this one also had its vege- 
table productions peculiar to itself. I remember Mr. N. bringing 
a beautiful flower to shew to us, which he had found in one of 
his rides in the bush, very much like a magnolia, but as usual 
^ with a difference, a flower which neither John nor I had ever 
before seen. But there was a strange thing in connection with 
the vegetable productions of this part of the country which I 

* Of this fact I have now but au imperfect recollection, and had it not been entered 
in my old Diary, it -would not have been mentioned here but that it was as stated, 
I have no doubt. 


had never observed anywhere else, and which I think would 
puzzle a naturalist to explain its origin. 

It was the custom on these extensive sheep ** runs," to 
move the sheep to fresh stations, for the sake of new herbage, 
leaving the old station ground v-acant for some months, in order 
that it might recover its former luxuriance. During these resting 
times, where the sheep had been folded, a variety of herbs would 
spring up never previously seen, and amongst them, white 
^ -clover, and wild parsley. How came these last to be a growth 
on a deserted sheep station, four hundred miles up in the interior ? 
Most certainly the white clover and parsley did not grow from 
seeds sown. But there they were. Horses were very fond of 
this new growth, and should any have strayed, after being 
turned out, they were sure to be found on these old deserted 
folding grounds. 

I have gone into these particulars, partly to avoid repeti- 
tion in the future, and also because the locality and the few 
people I had to do vdth were much to my liking. 

Mr. Nichols and I got on admirably together. Although 
living so far away from the social enjoyments only to be met 
with in a populous community, in education and manners, he 
was a perfect gentleman ; tall and good-looking, and wore a 
moustache, and a beard down to his breast. His residence, a 
wooden hut, was about two miles from ours, where he lived in 
the same solitary grandeur, amusing himself occasionally in a 
garden he had, or in visiting the neighbouring settlers, but 
they were very few, and scattered widely apart. 

Sometimes I would go and have a chat with him, or he 
with us at our station, and in due time was appointed to be his 
barber. He had noticed that John had had his hair cropped 
by me, and he thought in a masterly style, which made him 
very wishful that I should operate upon his. I tried to excuse 
myself, thinking that I should make a mess .of it, which I knew 
he would not like ; but he would accept of no excuses. So I 
undertook the task, and succeeded much better than I expected, 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. 1 839 TO 1 844. I9I 

satisfying both him and myself. For my reward, I got what 
in this place was a very rare commodity, a tumbler full of 
sherry wine, a thing I had never tasted for years. 

He was particularly neat in his dress, and had a man ser- 
vant allowed him, to attend to his wants, which included 
laundry work, for no women were to be seen in this locality. 
Each man did his own washing, but that was easily accom- 
plished, for in the summer, so great was the heat, we never 
wore underclothing. A plain coloured cotton shirt, with a 
blue or red woollen one over it, and light trousers, were as 
much as we could carry. No one at that season ever wore a 
waistcoat or necktie. 

I have no recollection of his ever having a book or news- 
paper, or ever seeing either myself, until my arrival at Moreton 
Bay, a period of nine months. What the outside world was 
doing we knew nothing. In all my journeyings in the interior, 
I had only seen three books, one of them being that dry old 
book, Watts's logic. All our stores were brought by bullock 
drays from Sydney, or the Clarence river, I forget which, but 
if from Sydney, the journey would occupy probably six months, 

going and returning. 


We used to have occasionally, one or two travellers call 
and stay the night. We had also plenty of provisions, and 
were glad to see these visitors. If ever . we were deficient in 
anything, it would be tea and sugar, for bushmen were extrava- 
gant in the use of tea; a handful of tea, kept in a canvas bag, 
to a quart of water, being the orthodox allowance, and in this 
thirsty climate, a man would drink, after a day's journey, two 
or three quarts before settling himself down for the night, and 
enjoy it. No drink was so refreshing to the tired traveller. 

The place where the shepherd and I lived was a very 
pleasant one, and if it had not been for the want of society and 
books, I could have been as happy in my bark ** gunyah " as I 


should have been in a palace, and, I may say, a great deal 
more so. Clusters of reeds grew on the margin of the lagoon 
alongside of which we lived, amongst which were numerous 
reed-birds, which hung their nests in the reeds, and are much 
similar in their habits to the reed-birds in some parts of Eng- 
land, but more beautiful in their plumage, and were continually 
chattering their simple song during the night as well as during 
the day. The locality otherwise was considered a very 
dangerous one, owing to the hostility of the natives, but none 
were ever seen whilst I was there, although we frequently heard 
of their driving away stock, and killing the men at the stations 
in the neighbourhood, which caused us at all times to keep a 
very sharp look put. 

I stayed four months here altogether, being one month 
over my time, for I had only engaged as help during the lambing 
season. Mr. Nichols- wished me to stay longer, and could not 
imagine what in the world could induce me to go to Moreton 
Bay, no more than I could account for a man of his intelligence, 
able to converse on any subject, and to be an acquisition to 
the best society, could rest contented in this solitary place. 

I did not think proper to tell him all my reasons for going, 
yet I was very anxious to get there, not only to see a place I 
had heard so much of, but to enable me to correspond with 
my friends in Sydney, and through them with thos^ in Eng- 
land. And I had now been able to provide myself with the 
most important requisite for the journey, having purchased 
of John his fowling-piece and a stock of ammunition. 

But that did not supply all my wants ; I could not travel 
all that distance, through many miles of an unoccupied 
country without a companion. The distance from our station 
to the Darling Downs, the commencement of the Moreton 
Bay district, being estimated to be 150 miles, and only one 
station intervening, and nothing but a marked tree line as a 
guide, after leaving this last station. 

FIFTY YEARS AGO, — ^1839 TO 1844. I95 

But fortunately I had not to wait long, for a traveller, 
happening to stay at our hut for the night, was desirous of 
going there, and only too glad to have a companion also, and 
consented to wait a few days until I was ready. The next 
chapter will detail the incidents of our journey. 



Hardships suffered on the journey — Arrive at Brisbane, the chief town 

of the Moreton Bay district — Brisbane Town, in 1848, described — Leave 

for the Interior— Have an attack of Intermittent Fever — Return to 

Brisbane Town for Medical Aid — Again in the Interior. 

Tff RECEIVED the usual paper orders for wages, drawn on 
I a well-known merchant in Sydney, the owner of the 
station, and of high standing in the commercial world ; 
having the amount divided into three or four portions for con- 
venience of paying or purchasing, for there was no other money 
in existence at that time; and Mr. Nichols was good enough to 
let me have, out of his own private store, one pound of Caven- 
dish tobacco, especially kept for his own smoking, tobacco that 
was in small flat cakes, and of more value than all the paper 
orders, for these cakes of tobacco would purchase, if necessary, 
anything that was to be purchased at the different stations, 
and as a gift was at all times estimated most highly. 

We were now ready to commence the journey, and I took 
leave of Mr. Nichols and John, the shepherd, from whom I was 
sorry to part. Nichols was his real name as well as I can 
remember, but the name of the station, for it had a name, I 
have forgotten. And when I say, that from it to the Darling 
Downs was 1 50 miles, it must be remembered that this estimate 
was only a rough guess, and all the distances in the Moreton 
Bay district at this time, were only the same uncertain estimates 
made by travellers, chiefly men on horseback, and their miles 
were usually long ones, like as they were in the southern 


My companion and I had each a gun and a pair of 
blankets, I having thirty-five ball cartridges, and he twenty. 
We had also a supply of tea and sugar, and a small ** damper '* 
between us. Thus I considered we were well equipped for the 
journey, and ready to start once more, ** on the Wallaby 
track," the name given by bushmen to these journeyings, and 
I was sanguine enough to believe it would be a success. 

I had already been about eight months travelling thus far 
from Sydney, owing to not being provided with the necessary 
requisites. But on Christmas day morning, 1842, we began 
this the most difficult part of the journey. Being midsummer, 
and in a country only some two degrees from the tropics, the 
day was excessively hot, and travelling with the load we had 
to carry was terribly fatiguing, yet we managed to reach the 
station before dark, the one I have before mentioned, as being 
the last one in the New England district. The name of this 
station was then, and is still ** Tenterfield." 

The occupants had been having, what was the custom in 
the interior, when practicable, a " jolly Christmas," that is, a 
superabundance of eating and drinking, and invited us to sup 
off the remains of the roast beef and plum pudding, and recom- 
mending us to lay in a good store, which they said we should 
find the use of before we got to the end of our contemplated 

In the morning, we started early, as it was necessary we 
should do, to avoid travelling in the mid-day heat, following 
the marked tree line, the country through which we travelled 
being just sufficiently supplied with water. Having rested a 
considerable time in the middle of the day we travelled on until 
it was dark. Next morning, we found that owing to travelling 
so long after dark, we had lost the marked tree line, and owing 
to the open character of the country and the scarcity of trees, 
all attempts to find it proved fruitless. 


So we determined to steer our course by the sun, as my 
companion was an old bushman, and confident of being able, 
by that method, of reaching the Downs. Continuing our 
journey, we were soon in a dry and barren country, some parts 
of it being nothing but white sand, in which grew a few 
stunted bushes. This was the most fatiguing day I ever had, 
it being still hotter than the day before, the sandy soil being 
so hot, that we could not bear to touch it with our hands, and 
on looking forward, the air might be $een flickering over the 
ground, like that over a heated lime kiln. Not a living thing 
was to be seen or heard, with the exception of the locusts, 
whose singing is very loud and peculiar, and is to be heard 
through the whole of the summer days when everything else 
living is hushed and paralyzed, beneath the overpowering 
influence of a sultry atmosphere. A few of them at short 
intervals will begin their song, which is immediately taken up 
by the rest of the fraternity, till the sound dies gradually away 
in the recesses of the distant forests, until again begun in like 
manner, and continued for a similar length of time. Locusts 
they are called by the colonists, and yet they are not locusts, 
but a ** cicada." Those who have ever lived in Southern 
Spain during the summer, will have heard the ** cicada " there, 
but the singing of the Australian ** cicada " is louder, and 
they are apparently more numerous. 

I had still my dog with me that I brought from the Peel 
river, and whilst I was faint with thirst, I saw her running in 
front of me, her coat wet, she evidently having found water, 
and been wallowing in it, and we should have enjoyed doing 
the same thing, had it been possible. We knew by the dog 
that there was water somewhere, and we looked in vain for 
some time to find it, and at last did so in a hole in the rocky 
bed of a dry creek, which contained about a quart, just 
sufficient to revive us. I have often heard and read since 
about the necessity of filtering water before drinking it, to get 
rid of the invisible bacteria and entozoa, and other germinal 
things pernicious to human organisms. How many of these 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. 1 839 TO 1 844. I97 

things this water contained I know not, but of frog's spawn it 
had plenty, for I could not only see it, but feel it slipping 
•down my throat. 

As usual in these hot deserts, we were in a very short 
time as thirsty as ever, but could find no more water. About 
noon we lay down under the shelter of a few miserable burnt- 
up trees, for about two hours to rest, and afterwards travelled 
on again. My tongue was dry in my mouth, and we neither 
of us spoke to each other, nor felt any inclination to do so, all 
power of speech seemed to have left us, and shortly after I 
became quite sick and faint, my head swam round, and I fell 
■down almost insensible, and my companion was obliged to 
stay with me some two or three hours until I recovered. I 
never remember suffering so much from the want of water as 
I did that day. I never realized, as I did then, the depth of 
the meaning of the old scriptural allusions to fountains of 
living water, in a country much resembling this. 

I had at other times been longer without water, but then 
the weather was cooler, so different from what we were now 
experiencing. The dry white sand and the bare gravelly ridges 
exposed to the rays of an almost tropical sun, made the heat 
painful and suffocating. 

I had read of " sun-stroke " striking down the traveller, 
and never comprehended its meaning, but now I can 
understand it, and had I been stout and full blooded, instead of 
being of a spare habit of body and wiry frame, I should have 
had sun -stroke, and fatally, to which many travellers in 
Australia have succumbed, and never again been heard of. 

On the approach of night, we both lay down as soon as 
we found it was too dark to travel any longer, and being still 
without water, we neither of us felt any desire to eat, my 
appetite had entirely left me, and I almost immediately fell 
asleep, and my dreams, as always under like circumstances, 
were of drinking of running sparkling water, and the choicest 
liquids, and yet never feeling satisfied. 


The morning broke without a cloud, and the sun on rising 
gave indications of a scorching day, by its dull red appearance, 
as seen through the medium of a hazy atmosphere. We started 
very early, in order if possible to find some water, before the 
intense heat of middle day. The country improved in appear- 
ance as we went on, its mountainous character leading us to 
hope we should find that which we were so much in need oL 
On mounting a high ridge, we found great numbers of that 
most Australian of all Australian trees, the grass tree, its tall 
reed-like stems were in full flower, and large drops of honey 
hanging to each floweret. We stayed a considerable time here 
collecting it, by running our hands up the stems, and then 
drinking it. This greatly refreshed us, and the birds which we 
heard in the valley below, were sure indications to us of our 
close vicinity to water. On descending the ridge, we were not 
long before we found some, and were soon enjoying the pleasure 
of drinking clear water, though not a running stream, a pleasure 
which no one can form a conception of, except those who have 
been similarly situated. After drinking as much as we required,, 
we made each of us a pot of tea, and were enabled to eat some 
of the bread we had brought with us. 

Our supply of water was a chain of ponds, and its course 
ran nearly in the direction we had to travel, and the lofty 
mountains facing us had every appearance of being the dividing 
range south of the Darling Downs. By following the creek up 
to the mountains, we hoped to reach the Downs without difiiculty, 
but owing to the great probability there was of our meeting 
with natives in the valley, we agreed to continue our journey 
on the ridges leading to them. We had been travelling more 
or less all day, and as night came on we both agreed to encamp- 
on the top of the ridge. 

Whilst I was making a fire, my companion went into a 
deep gully close by for water, and quickly returned bringing^ 
some, but greatly terrified, having heard some " blacks " in the 
valley below. After drinking, we immediately put out the fire 

FIFTY YEARS AGO 1 839 OT 1 844. I99 

I had been lighting, and after listening some time, I also* 
fancied I heard them. We decided at once that the most 
prudent thing to do was to move on a mile or two further, in 
order, if possible, to avoid coming into contact with them. I 
was most afraid of the dog barking and betraying our presence, 
but she kept very quiet. It has always since been a mystery 
to me why we were not followed, for the blacks were quick 
enough both of sight and hearing, to have noticed us. That 
there were blacks not far from us I cannot but believe, for my 
companion insisted that he heard them talking and hacking 
the trees with their tomahawks, but from soma mysterious 
cause, we escaped coming into collision with them. 

We had not travelled far before we were stopped by a 
thick pine scrub ; that, and the darkness, forced us to encamp,, 
but we dare not make a fire for fear it should discover us to 
the blacks. Our supper was made on the last remaining piece 
of dry bread, being obliged to eat it without the usual accom- 
paniment of that luxury of all luxuries to a traveller in the 
bush — a pot of tea. How we were to do for food the next day 
we did not know. We certainly had plenty of ammunition, 
but to shoot game we dare not, for fear of giving notice of our 
presence to any blacks there might be in the vicinity. If there 
had only been a few, we should not have cared for them, but 
should there be many, then our case would be a very hopeless 
one, should they chance to discover us. So it was agreed that 
if there was no probability of our procuring food before the 
close of the next day, we nevertheless would not fire a shot 
under any consideration, except in self-defence, until the day 
after, when we should then be obliged to do so in order to pro- 
cure food. 

On continuing the journey the following morning, skirting 
the outside of the pine scrub, greatly to our delight we came to 
the end of it sooner than we expected. Near the top of the 
mountain ridge, looking north, was a vista of broken mountain 
ranges, still an open country could be dimly seen in the 


distance, which could be no other than the Darling Downs ; 
and by still steering in a northerly direction, as far as practic- 
able, the country improved as we proceeded, the mountainous 
ranges became less rugged, their slopes being smooth and 
grassy, although the grass was dried up by the heat ; and the 
ridges were lightly timbered, and we now ventured into the 
valley, making travelling much easier. We knew by the 
gradual descent that we had crossed the dividing range that 
separated the Plains of New England from the Darling Downs, 
and after travelling the greater part of the day, to our great 
delight, we saw a man on horseback, coming in our direction 
and meeting us, and we gladly rested until he came up to us. 
We were more delighted to see him than he was to see us, for 
we knew that we should now be able to learn our where-abouts. 
He was on his way to New England, and on the road which 
we had lost, and had a good horse and was well armed, and 
otherwise provided for his journey. He was evidently an ** old 
hand " at bush-travelling. On telling him that we had lost 
our way, and wanted to make the Darling Downs, he assured 
us that we were but twelve miles from the Dow,ns and the 
nearest station, the track we were on leading directly to it. 
After which, he dismounted, and pulling out of his saddle-bags 
part of a Dutch cheese and a large piece of " damper," said : 
that before we parted, we should have a pot of tea together 
and something to eat. I need not say how glad we were to 
accept his invitation. 

Water being close at hand, and being now under no appre- 
hension from the natives, we soon had a fire lighted, and a 
comfortable meal, we all resting there a considerable time. On 
his taking leave of us, and our thanking him, he said, he did 
not want our thanks, but one request he had to make, that if 
we were asked if we had met anyone, we were to say ** No." 
Why, or wherefore, he did not give us time to ask, but mounted 
his horse and proceeded at once on his journey. 

But no one ever did ask us that question. Had this incident 
and others incidental to this journey not been mentioned in my 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. 1839 TO 1844. 20I 

old diary, this one would not have been mentioned here, for 
long and long ago has it been lost' to my memory, like many 

We had now the marked tree line again with us, and a 
path so much beaten that it was easily discernible, and before 
dark we crossed the Condamine river, and on to the Darling 
Downs, and soon saw the smoke from the huts of a large stock 
establishment, where we passed the night, and I think two or 
three days, for the sake of a rest we much needed, for I know 
we were treated very hospitably, the people, as usual, of these 
out-of-the-world stations, being only too glad to see the face of 
a stranger, something to break the dull monotony of their lives. 

We were now in the district of Moreton Bay, and the 
route to Brisbane Town, the capital, was, compared to that by 
which we had come, comparatively easy. 

I own that the difficulty I had experienced in travelling 
thus far since leaving Sydney, had often made me feel inclined 
to give up the undertaking, yet, after all, I could not help 
congratulating myself on making the journey. I had seen a 
wide range of country, and gained a certain amount of colonial 
experience, all objects I had ever in view during my stay in 
the colony. 

I remember the men at the hut where we stayed, had 
some six or eight tame white cockatoos, reared from the nest, 
and when that is the case, they are always remarkably tame. 
They were at full liberty, and could fly, but they roosted at 
night on a perch at one end of the hut, and it was amusing to 
see them walk into the hut of an evening, with solemn gravity, 
one after the other, and mount their perch ; and again in the 
morning, at the first glimpse of daylight, they would come 
down on to the floor, take a turn round the hut, and then 
march out one by one, through a hole made for them, and, 
when outside, would begin screaming and playing all sorts of 


I told the men my adventure with the police on the river 
Hunter, saying, at the same time, how strange it was I had 
never either seen or been troubled by them since. They told 
me that I should find police in this district, and that probably^ 
before I had travelled many miles, and that amongst them 
there was one named ** Scotty," or ** Scotchy," a Scotsman, 
who was notorious for *' pulling up " strangers, no stranger 
escaped him, and that if he did not ** pull " me up, I might 
consider myself very lucky. It was as well to know this, but 
I was not the least uneasy. 

The Darling Downs, named after Governor Darling, are 
a series of very fine plains, some of them being twenty miles 
or more in length, and although luxuriantly carpeted m the 
winter and spring, with the finest of the Australian grasses, 
yet many of these plains in the summer are almost unavail- 
able for the purpose of pasturage, on account of the great 
scarcity of water. Each plain has intervening ridges of high 
land and hard gravelly soil, thinly timbered with the iron-bark 

The soil of the plains is in general a deep rich black loam, 
and sometimes, of a dark chocolate colour. Deep creeks wind 
their tortuous way through each plain, many of them being, 
during the summer, without water ; the Condamine river, being 
the only stream of any consequence on these celebrated Downs, 
and it does not always flow, but yet contains sufficient water 
at various intervals, to afford an ample supply to the stock 
stations on its banks. There are no rivers in this district like 
the Murray and Murrumbidgee, with their rush of sparkling 
and ever-flowing water, rivers whose birth place is in the Snowy 
range. Well would it have been for the district of Moreton Bay 
had it been blessed with a Snowy range. 

My companion, who had travelled with me from New 
England, left me here, and I parted from our hospitable en- 
tertainers on the Condamine, and followed the road to Brisbane 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. 1 839 TO 1 844. 205 

Having, when I left Sydney, requested my friends there 
to forward any letters they might have for me to Brisbane 
Town, I was anxious to reach that place without further delay ; 
and on arriving at the last station on the Downs, and entering 
a hut, where I intended staying the night, one of the mounted 
police faced me, who at once asked me the usual questions as- 
to who I was, where I came from, and if I was a free man, and 
this policeman proved to be the notorious Scotty, but I had 
now lost all fear of* the police, and for certain reasons was 
rather anxious that he should take charge of me, because, so 
far from finding the Downs safe travelling, it was quite the 
contrary ; the settlers and the natives being perpetually coming 
into collision ; and to travel alone, through Cunningham's Gap^ 
across the coast range, I was told was a hazardous and fool- 
hardy proceeding. 

Should this policeman take me in charge, he would forward 
me, not back to Sydney, but to Brisbane Town, the very place 
to which I wanted to go. 

These considerations being uppermost in my mind, caused 
me to be quite cool when answering his questions, and sorry 
was I when I fancied he thought that I was " all right," yet he 
evidently wavered in his opinion, and although he did not takei 
formal charge of me, as being illegally at large, still he seemed 
wishful for some reason not to part with me. 

The day being Saturday, he advised my staying at this 
station the following Sunday, and then he proposed that I 
should go with him to Brisbane Town the following morning, 
and ride a spare horse he had. To this I at once consented, 
my only fear being that he might change his mind and leave 
me alone. 

This proposition of the policeman, will seem strange to 
those ignorant of the customs and habits of those days. That 
a policeman should invite a stranger to stay at another man's 
residence, without any leave being asked, looks almost like a 
piece of impudence. But all stations were at this time a sort 


of free hotel for any traveller, and every station was a resting 
place to the mounted police, who were known to everybody. 
And then a policeman almost always had a supply of all he 
wanted, except meat, which could not be carried in that hot 
climate, and he was always a welcome visitor at the stations, 
except to men illegally at large, for he often brought them 
tobacco of a choice kind (always a much prized commodity), 
was generally intelligent, and could tell them a lot of news. 
On these grounds we were both welcome. 

The rest, and the generous liberality of the policeman, for 
he let me want for nothing that he could supply, greatly re- 
cruited me, and on Monday morning, having mounted me on 
the spare horse, we started to make our way through Cunning- 
ham's Gap. I found riding much easier than walking, and was 
not sorry that I had such a companion. 

The Downs being a table-land, there is very little ascent 
to the dividing range which separates the high lands from the 
stretch of lands leading to the coast, and the traveller comes 
all at once on to the edge of the mountain ridge, when, far 
as the eye could see in the direction we had to go, was one 
succession of broken mountains, some of them being covered 
with a thick and impenetrable scrub, which, in India, would be 
called ** jungle." In all my travels in the colony I never saw 
a scene of such wild dreary sublimity. The mountains, instead 
of being regular in their formation, as mountains usually are, 
appeared as if they had been broken into fragments by some 
violent convulsion of nature, and hurled by the same force in 
indescribable confusion. Deep ravines lay on all sides of us, 
and the stones loosened by the horses' feet went thundering 
down their precipitous sides to the bottom, but difficult as was 
the road, it was the customary one for drays to and from the 
Downs and Brisbane Town. 

This road was called by the bullock-drivers ** Hell hole," 
and a hell hole it must have been to both drivers and bullocks, 
particularly to the latter. I cannot conceive how they 

FIFTY YEARS AGO 1 839 TO 1 844. 205 

ascended this gap. I believe the bullocks were unyoked and 
the goods carried piece-meal on their backs, and the drays in 
their descent let down by ropes. 

Before we arrived on to the low grounds, I was convinced 
how dangerous travelling must be, from the masses of thick 
scrub on the sides of the road, which were a secure refuge for 
the numerous blacks to fly to, after committing any depreda- 
tions. But we passed through it all without any molestation. 
This might not have been the case if I had been alone, as 
although we did not see any of the blacks, the scrubs, and even 
the open forest, might have had numbers in them, who could 
observe us without being observed themselves. 

It was late in the afternoon by the time we got on to the 
lowlands, and were but a short distance from a sheep station 
known to Scotty, when we were overtaken by a heavy 
thunderstorm, which brought to my mind the description I had 
read of tropical thunderstorms, before I myself became a 
traveller. Heavy clouds had been for some time accumula- 
ting ; the thunder was heard pealing in the distance, and, in 
spite of our efforts to reach the sheep station, the storm over- 
took us, the rain coming down in floods, the thunder not being 
a succession of claps at irregular intervals, but a continual 
roar, the reverberating echoes from the mountains, no doubt, 
helping to make it so. So heavy was the rain, that we were 
both wet through almost in a moment. The weather being so 
verj' hot, I had only a thin cotton shirt and a pair of thin 
trousers on me, for it was too hot to wear the usual woollen 
overshirt or blouse, so that was rolled up with the blankets^ 
and carried on the bow of the saddle, and Scotty was also 
very lightly clad. We were very near the station when the 
storm came on, but our horses came then to a dead stand- 
still, and there we had to remain till it had passed over. So 
heavy did the rain come down, the broad flats of the creek on 
which we were stationed, were ankle deep in water in a few 


After the storm had passed away we found the hut, where 
we quickly dried ourselves, and passed the night. 

In the morning we continued our journey, and in the 
middle of the day we dismounted and tethered our horses, and 
had a rest under the shade of a big rock, alongside of which 
was a chain of ponds. Under an overhanging ledge of rock, 
and just within reach, were a number of swallows* nests of 
Ihe bottle-nested variety, being in shape like a bottle with a 
long neck. Whilst Scotty was asleep, I thought I would 
examine these nests, to see if they contained eggs or young 
ones. As I did not wish to destroy the nests, I broke off the 
necks of two or three, until I could put my finger inside and 
feel the contents, if any there were. At last I found one with 
something warm and solid inside, so I tried my best to get the 
thing out, rolling it about with my finger, believing it to be a 
young bird. Losing patience, I broke down the nest, when 
out came a whip-snake, and before I could get rid of my 
astonishment, it had wriggled away out of sight. Scotty , who had 
just awakened, and was watching my proceedings, exclaimed: 
" There ! Has that thing bitten you ? For if it has, you have 
* lost the number of your mess,' and no mistake, for it is most 
deadly venomous." 

But it had not bitten me, and was one more added to my 
many escapes. A whip-snake is so called, owing to its 
resemblance in length and thickness to the thong of a whip, 
and is of a pale pinky colour. 

I think we passed this night at the Police barracks, where 
also resided the Crown Land Commissioner, and where I saw 
Windsor Charley, the black native-policeman, mentioned in a 
previous chapter. I know the barracks were somewhere about 
here. Now I might be said to be caught at last, but I had no 
fear, and Scotty had, I felt sure, long since come to the con- 
clusion that I was ** all right." 

Continuing our journey next day, for Scotty and I still 
kept together, much to my satisfaction, and I had still the 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. 1 839 TO 1 844. 207 

horse to ride, as it was to be left in Brisbane Town, we reached 
" Limestone," so called, owing to having been the place where 
lime was burnt by the convicts, during the time Moreton Bay 
was a penal settlement. This place, then called ** Limestone," 
is now Ipswich, and described as one of the oldest towns in 
Queensland, having mines, manufactures, and railway works, 
and connected with Brisbane Town by railway. I did not 
admire Limestone. I thought it was most unpicturesque. It was 
a dead flat, covered with dried-up dwarf gum trees, and there 
were one or two miserable huts, and a public-house, the first 
one I had seen since leaving Hunter's river. No licenses had 
been granted up to this time to anyone in New England, or 
the Darling Downs, owing to which it was really surprising to 
see the steady conduct of the men in these districts compared 
to what it became when these ** hells" were established. At 
other places, under the influence of ** drink," they were the 
very opposite of what they had been whilst secluded in the 
interior where it could not be had. 

Those who obtained licenses for these ** drinking dens," for 
they were little else, werevery fre quently idle, dissolute fellows, 
who neither could, nor desired to earn an honest livelihood. 
And although the regulations respecting them on the part of 
the Government were very strict, on paper, yet at this time 
there was hardly a Government strong enough to enforce them, 
and the absence of all competition in the interior parts fre- 
quently made the owners surly and insolent to a customer, and 
should he ofler in payment a one, or five, or twenty pound note 
or paper order, these publicans would, by every mean artifice, 
evade giving back change, hoping by so doing to compel the 
customer to spend it. 

It was at this Limestone public-house where Scotty and I 
stayed the night. After turning our horses into an enclosed 
paddock, we marched to the tap-room, in which were about 
twenty men, besides several that were outside, in every stage 
of drunkenness, some singing and shouting, whilst others were 
lying within, on the forms, or on the ground outside. 


The night being very warm, I went and sat under the ver- 
andah, and while smoking my pipe in a soHtary corner of it, 
and in spite of the disadvantage and seclusion of a life in the 
interior, I could not help wishing myself there again, or any- 
where, far away from the noise and riot of this place. Having 
expressed a wish to retire early to rest, I was shewn into an 
out-building of the usual construction, being like a barn or 
stable, and built of slabs of timber, and roofed with sheets of 
bark, and in which were about a dozen beds on as many 
stretchers. Here I had but little sleep, owing to the noise and 
continual coming in of half-drunken fellows daring most of the 
night, and I would have given the price of it (for this sleeping 
accommodation was charged I think two shillings and sixpence), 
to have been by myself in the forest, with nothing but my 
blankets and a log fire. 

After having breakfasted in the morning on salt beef, 
damper, and tea, I presented a one pound note in payment, a 
thing rarely seen at this time, and although the change I had 
to receive was not much, I had great difficulty in getting it, 
being repeatedly asked if I did not want something else, that 
something being ** drink," but seeing I was determined to have 
it, and in coin too, I was given it, and allowed to walk about 
my business. And this coin was the first I had seen for many 

The policeman and I still travelled on together, the day 
was very hot, and the country through which our route lay 
was a barren, inhospitable scrub, the intense heat having 
burnt up what little grass there was. 

The distance from Limestone to Brisbane Town was 
twenty-five miles, and but little improvement was to be seen 
even on a hear approach to Brisbane Town, which gave rise to 
many reflections as I rode along under the blazing sun of these 

We were now rapidly approaching the capital town of 
the district of Moreton Bay, a district which I had been led to 

FIFTY YEARS AGO 1 839 TO 1 844. 209 

believe by the newspapers was to rival the far-famed Australia 
Felix, and yet what a contrast there was between the approach 
to Brisbane Town and the fine country through which the high 
road traverses to Melbourne ! Yet I was much better pleased 
with Brisbane Town than I expected. It is not until close 
upon it that the traveller obtains a view of it, and having been 
for nearly twenty years a penal settlement, there were many 
good buildings and streets laid out with great regularity, much 
cleared land, and the roads in the vicinity were very good. 
These advantages, combined with a fine broad river, gave to 
it a very respectable appearance. A ferry boat crossed the 
river, and by which Scotty and I entered the town, and here 
we parted, and I must say with regret on my part, for I had 
found him a very agreeable, intelligent, and useful companion. 
And here was I, at last, at the settlement of Moreton Bay,, 
and, having seen it, I began to think about the steps I must 
take to get away from it. 

A steamer called the ** Sovereign" had commenced 
trading between Sydney and Brisbane Town. There being a 
post-ojQfice in the town, I confidently expected finding a letter 
or letters for me, and was much disappointed to find there 
were none. The consequence was, my projected return to 
Sydney had to be put off to a distant day. And I had had 
sufficient experience to find out that the paper money-orders, 
the only money in circulation, were in this new colony worth- 
less. That unless I got a remittance from England, I might 
stay here my lifetime. So before leaving for the interior, I 
wrote both to Sydney and to England, directing my friends in 
the latter place to send me a remittance to the Brisbane Town 
Post Office, or to Sydney. But so long were the voyages 
between England and these colonies, I had no reason to expect 
a reply to my letters in less than ten months. In the mean- 
time, I would go into the interior and await events. 

Having stayed one night in the town, I proceeded early 
next morning towards Limestone, and never remember ex- 
periencing a hotter day since my residence in the colony. 



The atmosphere was hazy, and the heat was very great, and 
accompanied by the strongest and most suffocating hot wind I 
ever experienced, and I afterwards learned that the ther- 
mometer had stood that day 123 degrees in the shade, but I 
know the thermometer has on some of the hottest days been 
higher than that. I had travelled but a few miles when I was 
compelled to take shelter from the heat in the shade of an old 
deserted hut situated near the road side, and, notwithstanding 
I was very thinly clad, the perspiration trickled down my face 
and every part of my body, although I was at rest. Knowing 
that I should have no difficulty in finding the road if I travelled 
by night, I stayed here all the day, being joined by a dray 
going into the interior. When the sun had set the draymen 
yoked up their bullocks and proceeded on their journey, I 
-gladly accepting their invitation to travel along with them, as 
I could put my carbine and the things I had with me on the 
■dray, thereby making it much easier and pleasanter travelling. 

We made very slow progress through the bad sandy road, 
for it was only a bush track, encamping about the middle of 
the night on the roadside, a few miles from Limestone. The 
night was very fine and moonlight, and the hot wind had died 
away, but the heat was still very great. 

Having made it my business to light a fire, placing on it a 
large iron pot, with a piece of meat to boil, and three quart 
pots of water, for tea for my companions and myself, I sat 
down on the ground smoking my pipe, whilst the draymen 
unyoked their bullocks, and turned them into the bush for the 
night. Whilst they were doing this, I felt so drowsy, that 
before I had finished smoking my pipe, I lay on my back and 
fell fast asleep. When I awoke, I should have been puzzled 
to tell how long I had slept, so sweet and sound had my sleep 
been, had I not noticed to my surprise that the moon which 
. before appeared to be overhead had gone down. The fire was 
nearly out, and on looking about more carefully, I saw the two 
draymen lying on the ground asleep, as 1 had been. My first 
thoughts were that they had taken their supper without awaking 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. 1 839 TO 1 844. 211 

nie to join them, and I could not help thinking, as I saw them 
l5dng there, that they were two of the meanest fellows chance 
had ever placed me with. Whilst these thoughts were occupy- 
ing my mind, I had leisure to examine more minutely objects 
around me, and I perceived that the iron pot and the three 
-quart pots I had put on the fire were still there, and on going 
to examine them, I found the handles melted off the quart pots, 
.and the water in the iron pot had boiled away, leaving the 
meat which was in it burnt to a cinder. At the same time I 
perceived the dawn of the morning, which breaks very rapidly 
in these latitudes. 

Having awakened the two men, they were quite astonished 
when they saw, that like myself, they had gone to sleep without 
supper, and I could not help blaming myself for coming to such 
a hasty conclusion about them. 

However we began immediately to repair the damage that 
had been done, placing another piece of meat in the pot, which 
having boiled, we made some tea in the dilapidated tea pots, 
.and completed our supper and breakfast at the same time. 

I travelled on with these two men to their employer's 
station, situated a few miles from the Brisbane river, where I 
also obtained employment, which was easy to be had, but 
wages were low. My occupation this time was that of a shep- 
herd, which brought a welcome rest. 

The sheep establishment was of no great extent, and was 
in charge of an overseer, who was a married man. 

I was now on the lowlands, which lie between the coast 
range of mountains and Brisbane Town, and these lowlands 
proved very unhealthy, and on that account I had soon to give 
up my employment. There had been, for some time, great 
numbers of persons, that is, great in comparison with the small 
population, afflicted with fever and ague. Scarcely a station 
but had one or more men on the sick list, yet this fever seemed 
to be confined to those living on the lowlands, as I never heard 
of anyone residing on the Downs, or any of the Tabic lands 


being afflicted with it. The moisture from low wet grounds 
has in general been assigned as the cause of this complaint, 
yet where I was living, although it might be termed low, in 
comparison with the Darling Downs, was clear open forest, 
consisting of plains and high dry ridges. There was no 
swampy ground, and the season was a particularly hot and 
dry one. Experience has proved that this part of the colony 
is subject to periodical epidemics of this kind, which I never 
found to be the case in any other part of the country. 

The eucalyptus or gum tree has the reputation of being a 
perfect antidote to ague, and has been introduced into Spain 
and • North Africa for that end. But that cannot be a right 
conclusion, for here the forest was, as a rule, all eucalyptus. 

However, I soon became ill myself, and had all the worst 
symptoms of the complaint on me, owing to which I was 
obliged to leave the place and make my way to Brisbane Town, 
which was nearly eighty miles distant, for there were neither 
doctor nor medicine nearer. One would think that the owners 
of these establishments knowing how prevalent this complaint 
was, would have kept in their stores a supply of quinine, 
which was in almost all cases a certain cure in case of an 
attack, but not so. 

My walk to Brisbane Town proved a very tedious and pain- 
ful one, there being but one station betwixt the one I was 
leaving and Limestone, and this one I had an insuperable 
objection to visit, although I knew the people who lived there, 
and knew that they would treat me well when I got there, but 
it was an impression strongly fixed in the minds of the people 
that the complaint was infectious. 

Before I relate any incidents on my journey, I ought to 
state that the blacks, and the settlers on these low lands, 
bordering on Brisbane Town, were on comparatively friendly 
terms, only occasionally an outbreak of hostilities taking place. 
At the station we had left we had at times small parties of 
natives visit us, generally a family, and no more. It was at 



FIFTY YEARS AGO. 1 839 TO 1 844. 2I3 

the outskirts, away in the interior, where the blacks and the 
settlers were so often in collision. These remarks are neces- 
sary to explain what follows. 

As I carried food with me, the first night of my journey I 
passed in an old deserted hut, making a fire in it for cooking 
purposes, and for warmth when the cold shivers came on, 
which used to be every other day, followed directly after by 
fever. I slept on a sheet of bark rolled up in my blankets, 
and at daylight I felt that I should have a recurrence of the 
fever, which shortly after began. The shivering had passed 
off, and I was in the fever stage, when four or five blacks 
entered the hut, which very much startled me, but I felt so 
bad I did not care what they did. 

They had stuck their spears into the ground outside, 
marching in with their tomahawks and bomerangs in their 
hands, and, after looking at me some time and jabbering to 
each other, one of them asked me : " What name, white- 
fellow ? " The only answer I could give being a slight shake 
of the head. The same man then said : " Murra coborn 
minghy, I believe " (very sick, I believe), to which I answered : 
" Ya, wia coborn minghy * (yes, I am very sick). This answer 
seemed to satisfy them, nevertheless, I fully expected they 
would ask, and insist on my giving them, almost everything I 
had, but all they asked for was some tobacco, which I gave 
them. Having filled and lighted their pipes, they sat down on 
the floor, letting me rest quietly. 

I should think they remained a quarter-of-an-hour or 
twenty minutes, talking to one another, and looking occasion- 
ally at me, after which they picked up their weapons and 
departed, leaving me in peace, behaving better to me than I 
had a right to expect, for I knew there were white-fellows in the 
colony who, if they had found a solitary black-fellow under the 
same conditions as these blacks found me, would either have 
shot him or knocked him on the head. 


During the fever stage the patient perspires very much^ 
my shirt always at the finish of the fever being as wet as a 
wrung out dish-cloth. Then follows a most dreadful headache^ 
which was rendered still worse by travelling under a burn- 
ing sun. My head used to ache so sometimes that it affected 
my sight, so that everything I looked at would be for some 
minutes of a blazing red tinge. After the fever had left me, I 
pulled off my shirt, and put on a clean one, rinsing the other 
in a water-hole, and then, slinging it over my shoulder, let it 
dry as I walked along, which it would do in a very few minutes. 

Continuing the journey, I eventually reached Brisbane- 
Town, at which place there was a large and commodious 
hospital erected for the use of the convicts and officials during 
the time it was a penal settlement, and was still used for the 
same purpose, for the few that were still located in this dis- 

There was at that time no doctor in all Brisbane Town, 
except the resident surgeon at the prison hospital, and I had 
confidently hoped that I should prevail on him to take me into 
the hospital, where I knew I should meet with every attention, 
but although a very kind and humane man he could not do so, 
owing to express orders to the contrary from the Government 
in Sydney. No person except the convicts in Government 
employ, and the few assigned to the settlers, being privileged the 
use of the hospital. After I had seen the surgeon, for he would 
not refuse seeing and prescribing for a patient, I went into the 
kitchen to wait for the medicine* he was to give me, and almost 
directly after, I had a recurrence of the complaint, and whilst 
standing before the fire, for hot as the weather was, I was- 
chilly, the overseer of the hospital came in, and seeing my con- 
dition, ordered me to be put to bed in one of the wards, which 
was immediately done, and every attention paid to me by the 
rest of the men, and it becomes me to offer a grateful tribute 
to the kindness with which I was treated whilst there. These 
good Samaritans who bestowed it, being, with but one exception^ 
not of the pure and select of the world, but convicts. 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. 1 839 TO 1 844. 21 5 

Before it was dark the fever had left me, and I got up and 
went again into the kitchen, where I had given to me a tumbler 
of Cape wine, and soon after had tea with the men. 

The hospital and offices attached to it were built of brick, 
and were well adapted for what they were intended, all the 
rooms being large and lofty, round which ran a verandah for 
the use of the patients, and in my debilitated condition, I 
almost wished myself one of the favoured class, who were 
privileged to rest their fevered brows in an asylum so cool and 

The overseer insisted on my staying all night, which I 
readily agreed to, there being no other place where I could 
lodge, except at some of the noisy public-houses, and they did 
not want fever- stricken patients. 

In the morning, Mr. B., the Government surgeon, made 
me up a quinine mixture in a wine quart bottle, and telling me 
to ** cheer up," that the medicine would soon put me all right. 

A kind-hearted man was the doctor, who would receive no 
payment. I wish I knew his liame, it should then have been 
given here, but that 1 have forgotten. I find his name in my 
old diary as Mr. B. only. I remembered it well at the time, 
and that he was noted for his humanity to all needing a 
doctor's help. 

I began the return journey into the interior, taking the 
road to the Darling Downs, and carrying my quart bottle of 
medicine in one hand. I was to take a wine glass full three 
times a day, but having no wine glass I drank out of the bottle. 

I did not travel far that day, it being too hot, and I 
feeling very weak, and not being near any habitation, encamped 
at night in the bush. The following day, I travelled slowly 
on, and in the afternoon, came to a dray encamped on the road 
side. The man who was in charge of it was very desirous 
that I should stay there for the night, as his companion had 
gone out in the morning to search for his bullocks and had not 


yet returned, and if I would stop with the dray he would go in 
search of him. I the more readily acceded to his request, as I 
felt that I should shortly have a recurrence of the ague fit, and 
it actually came on before the man left me. Seeing that the 
drayman's bed was made down under the dray, I laid myself 
down on it, covering myself over with my blankets, and after 
the fever had subsided, enjoyed a good sleep, even until 

On awaking, I found that I was still alone, the men and 
their bullocks not having returned, and it was near the middle 
of the day before they made their appearance, which having 
done, they proceeded on their journey. Owing to their going 
to within a few miles of the station at which I had formerly 
lived, I continued in their company and encamped with them 
the same night, which proved a very miserable and uncomfort- 
able one, more especially for a sick person like myself. The 
sky had been overcast most of the day, and before we retired 
to rest, heavy rain set in, which continued all night. The men 
slept under the dray, and I slept alongside them, wrapped up 
in my own blankets, and long before morning we all were wet 
through, but the night was warm, and therefore the discomfort 
was not of the .worst. The morning was hot and bright, and 
we soon had everything dry, and strange to say, I never had 
another attack of the fever, but rapidly began to regain health 
and strength, which I retained to the last day of my stay in 
the colony. 

Fevers, in cold climates, are bad enough, but their depress- 
ing and weakening effects are intensified in a hot tropical 
climate *, a fiery atmosphere outside, in conjunction with a 
fever within, the patient feels it an impossibility to recover, 
and my rapid recovery was a surprise to myself, for many times 
I thought I must succumb. Some people are more fortunate 
under bodily affliction than others, and I must be one of them. 
Twenty-one years after suffering from this fever I was in 
Gibraltar, and at the time, in a similar climate, and stricken 
down by the Rock fever, much resembling in its effects the 


FIFTY YEARS AGO 1 839 TO 1 844. 21 7 

fever I had in Australia, but far worse. I had been suffering 
under it about two months, and my depression of spirits was 
greater than my bodily weakness. Venturing for the first time 
to take a walk, I was crawling along, on the Line Wall facing 
the Saluting Battery, and obliged to be supported, when two 
English gentlemen passed me, one of them turning round to 
look at me, said to his companion, ** That poor fellow is not 
long for. this world," and I heard him. I did not wonder at his 
remark, for I was a wreck. And the year following, the Cholera 
visited the Rock, and over 500 victims, out of a population of 
about 23,000, including the Military, fell under its influence 
in 3 months, but I was still spared. 

Twenty-five years have passed away since that remark 
was made by the two Englishmen ; the kindly support which 
helped me in my walk has long since gone to the mysterious 
unknown, and I am here writing these lines in 1890, in good 
health, and with intellect as vigorous as I ever remember it to 
be. Why I should escape as I did, from these sicknesses and 
other perils is more than I can say. Some people I know will 
attribute it to a special Providence. That is to me still more 
difficult to believe, for there were more worthy people than I 
who fell victims to this Cholera, and whose lives were of more 
importance. Perhaps it was, that I was living a ** Charmed 
life," the result of the charming I went through at Robin 
Hood's well. 


QUEENSLAND IN 1843 & 1844. 

The Interior and our Work there described— Meet with Booralsha*, the run- 
away Convict — Remarks about the Black Natives and the Missionaries — 

Leave for Sydney by Steamer. 

OUEENSLAND, and its political and social condition at 
I that time may be gathered from what follows, and will, 
^ I think, have an interest for the present generation of 

I made the best of my way to my former residence, where 
I was taken on at once, but this time as a stockman, which 
office I only held a few days, owing to the young overseer in 
charge leaving, and another being appointed in his place. I 
should have had no difficulty in getting an overseer's place, but 
that I did not care for, as it would have necessitated a long 
engagement, which, owing to my expecting to leave the colony 
in a short time, I could not accept. 

The young overseer was one of the few married men to be 
found in the colony. He was an ex-convict, but a very decent 
fellow, and he had a wife also an emancipist, old enough to be 
his mother, or even his grandmother, but I suppose he could 
not help himself, women being very scarce in those days. 

A short time before he left, we had a visit from a Church 
of England clergyman, who had travelled all the way from 
Brisbane Town. I forget now his particular errand, but I 
know he gave our overseer, his wife, myself and another, an 
address, specifying his intention to visit j the interior at 
intervals, and asking for subscriptions, whether to build a 
church in Brisbane Town, or for meeting travelling expenses- 
in the interior, 1 don't remember. He was very well treated 


by the overseer, who presented him with a money order 
on our employer at Richmond for some two or three pounds^ 
which my after experience proved was not worth the paper on 
which it was written. I cannot say I was impressed by this 
Rev. gentleman. He seemed to me very suitable for a fashion- 
able church in Sydney, but most unsuitable for making head- 
way among a lot of wild bushmen. He was the first clergy- 
man I ever met with in the interior, and the last. — See^ 
Appendix K. 

This sheep establishment was only on a small scale, com- 
pared to others, and was owned by a gentleman living at Rich- 
mond on the Hawkesbury, seventy miles west of Sydney, and 
some seven hundred miles distant from this place, and the new 
overseer was a man I never liked. He was a coarse, brutal 
fellow, a very big man, and an emancipist, and our employer 
was the son of one, and had a preference for one of his own 
class. This overseer had also a wife and a family of two or 
three boys. 

Never was a stock station worse managed, or, I might say^ 
mismanaged. The overseer kept a lot of pigs, a gigantic^ 
long-legged breed, and why he kept such things in such a 
climate would puzzle a wiser head than mine. They were let 
run wild, and eventually, for a long time, made it a nightly 
practice to break into the sheep fold, and worry the sheep like 
so many wolves. But they did not attack the sheep as wolves 
would have done, seizing them by the throat, but would fasten 
on the hind-quarters of a sheep, and tear and eat the flesh, and 
no dog could prevent them, nor men either, unless they did 
nothing else but keep a watch on them. I think we mastered 
them at last by beating them on the head with crowbars, using 
our utmost strength. I threatened several times to write ta 
the owner about it, and get someone to carry the letter to Bris- 
bane Town, for that was the only post office in this district, but 
he did not care. I would give his name here, for I remember 
it well, were it not for the boys, who were nice lads, considering 
the sort of parent they had ; and for whom he had a private 


tutor (for he had money), one of his own class, and a shrewd, 
clever man this tutor was. I think he had been a lawyer, and 
had been transported for some misdemeanour. However, I 
must say he had done his duty to the boys, and one of them 
lent me a book, the only book I ever saw here. Its name was 
-** Three Courses and a Dessert," which the boy called ** Three 
Courses and a Desert." 

There were not more than half-a-dozen men on this estab- 
lishment, amongst which were one Englishman besides myself, 
one Irishman, and a Scotsman, all free " jimmigrants," and all 
young. The Irishman was from the north of Ireland, of a 
good figure, and clean and smart in his person. The Scotsman 
was a very humorous fellow, and the company of both was 
very enjoyable. 

Sydney Smith, in one of his rollicking moods, having once 
said that a Scotsman had in him no sense of humour, or some- 
thing to the same effect ; that saying, on account, I suppose, of 
its not being true, has become an axiom, and an allusion 
continually made use of, both in speech and in writing. I met 
with very many Scotsmen in these colonies, for they were far 
more numerous than Englishmen, and my experience of a 
Scotsman's sense of humour differs in toto from the com- 
monly accepted notion, even when backed by Sydney Smith. 
I consider that the Scotsman is as humorous as the Irishman, 
but it is humour of a different type. The Scotsman's humour 
is dry. The Irishman is witty and hilarious. And as to the 
sense of humour of the average Englishman, it cannot be said 
to be " brilliant," whatever else it may be. But he has this 
characteristic, he is not " clannish," but when there is merit, 
welcomes all, of whatever nationality. — See Appendix L . 

Our station was situated on the banks of a deep, wide 
creek, the bed of which was only a chain of ponds, except in a 
rainy season, and the surrounding country was fine and open 
forest, wooded ranges, and small plains. On each side of the 
river, but principally on the mountain ranges, were impene- 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. 1 839 TO 1 844. 221 

trable " scrubs," extending for many miles, forming a dense 
forest, a wild jungle of forest trees, thick undergrowth, and a 
net-work of climbing plants, impenetrable to a white man. A 
few tracks there were, penetrating these " scrubs," made by 
the natives, and known to them only. 

On the opposite side, about two miles distant, was a sheep 
station hut, the inmates of which were our nearest neighbours, 
and we used to visit each other occasionally. 

The natives in the district in which we were, had been 
for some length of time very quiet and tractable, and would 
occasionally visit the stations, a few at a time, but from some 
cause or other they deserted the stations and became as hostile 
as they had previously been peaceable, and I have every 
reason to think the cause was ill-treatment on the part of the 
whites. We frequently heard reports of men being killed by 
the blacks at some of the out-stations, but I did not think 
there were any near us, until one morning, one of our neigh- 
bours on the opposite side of the creek came over in great haste 
to ask us to come and assist in driving them away, they hav- 
ing taken possession of their hut, the two white men, his com- 
panions, had fled for their lives. We mustered all the guns we 
could and ammunition, and with the man who had brought the 
message we were only four in number. Our plan was to walk 
up the dry bed of the creek until opposite the hut, which was 
situated about forty or fifty yards from it, which we were 
enabled to do without being seen. We heard the blacks some 
time before we arrived in front of the hut, and no sooner were 
we in sight than they threw several spears at us, but on our 
cowering down behind our natural entrenchment they flew 
harmlessly over our heads. Then we gave them a volley with 
our fire-arms, when the majority retreated towards a " scrub," 
some considerable distance beyond, a few of the. most daring 
still kept their ground near the hut, but eventually they dis- 
appeared. No one was hurt on our side, and but little, if any 
harm done on theirs, they were too far off to be reached by any 
missile from the guns we had in use, which, except my own,. 


were the commonest old flint muskets ; for it must be remem- 
bered there were no breech loaders in those days, nor percus- 
sion caps, all the guns in use, here at any rate, were fired by 
the old flint and steel locks, the same as were in use at the 
battle of Waterloo. 

Although I had lived in those parts of the colony where 
the blacks were the most hostile, this was the first time I had 
ever come into collision with them ; but there were no more 
attacks by the blacks at this station, the men and the sheep 
being removed to another station the next day. 

I had no wish to hurt them if it could be avoided, and I 
took care that my firing should not hurt them unless driven to 
an extremity. Why they retreated so rapidly could not be 
accounted for, unless it was that they thought we were much 
more numerous than we really were, or they dreaded a stronger 
reinforcement from the head station, which was no great dis- 
tance away, for one of the men had gone there on the first 
alarm, and the blacks of this district were not wanting in 
courage. They were a fine specimen of the Australian natives, 
some of the men being giants in size, and well proportioned, 
and were if anything of a fiercer disposition, and more courage- 
ous than the tribes further south, whilst their impenetrable 
** scrubs" enabled them to set both horse and foot at defiance. 
At one time, drays going with supplies to the Downs, although 
the men were well armed, were frequently robbed by them 
at Cunningham's Gap. So determined were the attacks on 
the drays at that place, the Government was compelled ' to 
build a small barrack, at the foot of the range, for a party of 
soldiers, for the purpose of escorting the drays through the pass. 

In the early days of the settlement, when the whites were 
comparatively few in number, the blacks that we were called 
upon to face, would not have been driven away so easily. The 
thick ** scrubs " served them for a fortress, but they could not 
live in the " scrubs " always. Their chief source of food lay in 
the open country, and there it was they came into collision 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. 1839 TO 1844. 223 

ivith the settlers. They could not there, stand against the 
forces brought against them. The settler's horses, dogs, and 
guns — and poison — gained the day. No wonder the natives 
-eventually lost heart. 

I have, at all times, in writing this diary, given the convicf 
population, their just due whenever they merited it, believing 
as I do, that many of them were convicts through no fault of 
thair own, the victims of evil surroundings and bad laws ; yet 
there were amongst them in this district, a not inconsiderable 
number of the vilest scoundrels and ruffians, who thought no 
more of shooting a stray black-fellow than they would a mad 

I think it was Douglas Jerrold, who once characterizing 
a ruffian of this class, said, or wrote : " That he was one of 
those fellows who would not hesitate to sharpen his knife on 
bis father's grave-stone to cut his mother's throat." And it is as 
well to note the point of this saying of his ; it was his mother's 
throat he was to cut, not his father's. And I believe there 
were some amongst these ruffians, that might be fairly classed 
along with Douglas Jerrold's exemplar. 

It was no unusual thing to hear these jruffians in conversa- 
tion with one another, boasting of the blacks they had 
slaughtered, and when relating the particular qualities of a 
savage brute of a dog, say, he would pull down a black-fellow, 
or seize a black-fellow, and tear his entrails out. But the use 
of the dogs to pull down black-fellows, was not the only 
method used by these ruffians. They were made away with, 
sometimes by treachery, when apparently on friendly terms. 

Less than twenty miles from where I lived, some blacks 
had been given milk poisoned with arsenic. How many were 
poisoned was never known, but it was no secret in our district. 
To the complaints of the survivors, the excuse was made that 
the milk was ** poley cow's milk," given by mistake, not milk 
from cows with horns. 


It may be asked : Did the Government sanction these 
acts ? No. The law was that any white man murdering a 
black should be hanged. But the law was a dead letter. No 
one heeded it, and there was not sufficient force to carry out 
the law. The Government ought to have taken measures to 
protect the blacks from ill-usage. Having dispossessed them 
of their lands, they ought to have provided them with food, 
and reserved lands for their use, but with the exception named 
it did nothing, but let the two races fight out their differences, 
and the Government must have known what the result would 

The burly overseer (who had charge of the establishment 
on which I lived) and I, did not get on well together, so that 
after the usual notice, I left him, getting the customary paper 
money order on his employer in Richmond, seven hundred miles 
distant. How many months I remained at this station I cannot 
now remember, for some time after, I lost by a fire all my 
memoranda, losing all entries and dates, but not the remem- 
brance of the numerous incidents which, at the time when I 
made my 1845 diary, were vividly remembered. 

My next move was to a large sheep establishment close 
by, having a head station and several out stations, on the 
banks of a deep creek, some thirty miles in extent, on Laidley 
creek, I believe, but I am not quite sure, for in my old diary 
there is no name given to any of these localities, but I re- 
member well, Laidley creek was one of them, but whether it 
was the locality of my first employment with the pig-keeping 
overseer, or the one 1 am about to describe, I cannot now re- 
member. I know the two establishments were no great distance 
'from each other. 

The lambing season was on, and the sheep-shearing time 
approaching, and I engaged as a supernumerary, having no 
particular occupation, being sometimes at one station and 
sometimes at another, sometimes carrying rations to stations on 

FIFTY, YEARS AGO. 1 839 TO 1 844. 225 

horseback. Many of these stations were well known to me, so 
I was no stranger. The owner, as was often the case, was a 
well-to-do merchant in Sydney. 

This occupation suited me very well, and was to terminate 
on a month's notice given on either side, for the time was fast 
approaching when I might expect letters from home at the 
Brisbane Town Post Office, and also the remittance I wanted. 

The superintendent in charge, having one or two overseers 
under him, was a Captain S., an Irishman, and a retired army 
officer, pleasant and genial in his manner. I remember one of 
his accomplishments, he was an excellent performer on the 
cornopean ; and many a night during the sheep shearing, when 
I was at the head station, I would be lying down with others 
outside the hut, resting after the heat of the day, I used to 
enjoy two things, listening to his play on the cornopean, and 
at the same time gazing at the wonderful comet which was 
then visible, and speculating in thought on its present appear- 
ance and its ultimate destiny, for at this time (it would be the 
summer of 1843 or 1844) there was a splendid comet to be seen, 
only visible in the southern hemisphere. 

I had seen several comets, and have seen others since, 
but none to compare in magnitude and beauty to this. It did 
not show near the horizon, but at the time of night when we 
would see it over-head ; it had a nucleus and a magnificent 
tail spread out like a fan, and seemed to occupy a space a 
quarter way across the sky. It needed no telescope, but was 
as plainly visible to the naked eye as the moon might be, and 
continued so four or five weeks, rising upwards, by degrees, 
not sinking to the horizon, and gradually becoming fainter, 
until it finally disappeared. 

I very much wished to know more about this comet, if it 
had a name, or was this its first recorded appearance, but 
never could ascertain, not even when in Sydney. 

At one of the out-stations, I came into contact with a re- 
markable man, and that man was " Booralsha," and yet in my 



old diary, there is not a word about him, but I remember him 
well, and all his strange history. 

Who, it will be asked, was Booralsha ? I will explain.' 
Soon after the break-up of the convict establishment of Moreton 
Bay, and its withdrawal in 1842, a strange man one day pre- 
sented himself to the Government officials in charge of what 
remained of the convict establishment. He was dressed like 
an aboriginal, but had lighter features. As well as he could 
-explain himself, for he had nearly forgotten his own language, 
he told the officials that he was a runaway convict, that his 
name was Baker, that he deserted the settlement some years 
ago, how many he did not know, but that now he gave himself 
up and was ready to abide the consequences. What thos3 
consequences were in the old times of convict discipline was 
well known, a severe flogging, and a renewed penal servitude 
worse than death. 

The officials did not know what to make of him, but on 
carefully searching the books they found his name, and that 
he had been missing fourteen years and nine months. Such 
is the period of time, I still retain in my memory. 

Baker was taken in charge, but not, I believe, put into 
confinement, in which condition he was to remain until orders 
had been received from Sydney, as to what was to be done with 
him ; Sydney being the head quarters of the governing powers 
controlling these colonies, Moreton Bay and Port Phillip. 
The orders eventually came, and were, that he was to be kept 
on the establishment and his services utilized as interpreter for 
the aborigines. 

Booralsha, was the name given to him by the natives, and 
by that name he was known, at that time, all over the colony. 

A party of Government surveyors were employed in sur- 
T-eying the district in which I then lived, and one evening, 
encamping a short distance from the hiit where I was staying. 
The surveying party was fitted out with tents, and many com- 
forts unknown to the ordinary bush-man on his travels, and as 


FIFTY YEARS AGO. — 1 839 TO 1 844. 227 

a matter of course, I and others paid them a visit, and it was 
there I met with Booralsha, who was attached to the surveying 
party, as an interpreter for the blacks, if necessary, and as a 
man who could always give most valuable information. 

Booralsha was a man of slight build, and medium height, 
and had black hair, not a single grey one to be seen. He 
stooped in. his walk, and used a stick, for he was very much 
afflicted with rheumatism. His speech was quiet and subdued, 
and free from all coarseness. His manner also was sedate, 
and seldom did he smile, and he seemed broken in spirit, as 
he might well be, but at this time he was well and indulgently 
treated. I have as vivid a recollection of his manner and 
appearance in 1890 as when I saw him in 1843. 

I spent some two or three hours conversing with Booralsha 
and the men that were with him, and heard from him many 
details of his escape from penal servitude, and of his first 
meeting with the blacks, and of the hardships he underwent, 
for it was a terrible venture for any man to make, death being 
-almost the certain fate of a runaway convict, either by violence 
or starvation. His description of his escape from the penal 
settlement, and first meeting with the blacks, is, as near as I can 
remember, as follows : — 

To escape into the interior was not very difficult, yet few 
attempted it ; but the prison life at this isolated settlement was 
3. wretched one ; where the commandant in charge acted pretty 
much as he liked, and was often a tyrannical despot, and 
when he was so, could make the lives of these men a **hell 
upon earth." I have heard many times men who had been in 
penal servitude at Moreton Bay, mention, one particular 
tyrant who, when a man was brought before him for soine 
petty delinquency, would at once address him in the following 
words : 

** Do you know where you are ? If not, I will tell you ! 
-* You are in hell, and I am the Devil.* ** 


I heard this on the Devil's river, from Tommy, my com- 
panion, who had the misfortune to serve his time there, and I 
heard it from others. 

A list of the Commandants, who had command during the 
time Moreton Bay was a penal settlement, will be found in 
Pugh's Queensland almanack, for 1890. Which of them had 
the distinguished honour of being this ** ruling devil " in this 
"hell," I am not aware, but from what I remember I think 
I could make a fair guess. 

According to Booralsha's statement, it was some such 
tyrant as this who ruled when he was in penal servitude, at 
Moreton Bay. He found life so wretched and miserable that 
he was determined to escape, and risk the terrible conse- 
quences. He had no clothing but that which he wore. How 
long he wandered about the bush, having nothing to eat, I do 
not remember. At last he met with a family of the natives, 
and kept with them a few days, living on any garbage which 
they might offer him. Soon after, this family brought him 
into the presence of the tribe to which it belonged. By the 
tribe he was surrounded, questioned and examined, and from 
their attitude he expected nothing but death. Eventually, an 
old black woman came up to him, examined him, and talked to 
him, and also to the tribe, when of a sudden the assembled 
blacks laid aside their ferocious attitude and became quite 

He did not know, at the time, the meaning of it all, but as 
time passed, and he began to understand their language, he 
learned that it was proposed they should kill him, and which 
they probably would have done, had it not been for the old 
woman. She, it was who saved his life. 

As I have mentioned before, it is the firm belief of all the 
natives of the east coast, that when a black-fellow 'dies, ** he 
jxmips up a white-fellow." Ignorant as they are represented to 
be, they are, in a sense, believers in the law of evolution. 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. — 1839 TO 1844. 229 

The old woman had once a son, named Booralsha, and 
this son had died some time back, and she, after a close ex- 
amination of the white-man, told the tribe that he was her son 
Booralsha, come to life again as a white-fellow. 

That decided his fate. The tribe were satisfied that the 
old woman spoke that which was true. He then attached 
himself to a family, but as he could use neither the spear nor 
the bomerang, and on that account could not procure game to 
serve for food, he had to live on any refuse they chose to give 
to him. Many times he tried to cut out an opossum from the 
hollow branches of trees, as the blacks do, but his want of 
native skill, either to find or secure the game when found, 
rendered these attempts as a rule of no avail. In climbing trees 
for this purpose he had many severe falls. Had he broken a 
limb, he must have lain down and died. After he had gone 
through these preliminary sufferings for some months, by the 
the general consent of the family, with which he always kept 
company, he gained a wife, after that, his troubles in providing 
food came to an end, for the women are equally as expert as 
the men in securing that ; and food, according to their require- 
ments, was at all times abundant, until white men came, and 
took forcible possession of their hunting grounds. 

And so Booralsha lived on, how long he did not know, 
until told, when he gave himself up to the authorities. He 
could neither keep account of days, months, or years. 

When the penal settlement was discontinued, and the 
whole colony thrown open to free settlement, he foresaw that 
collisions would take place between the opposing races, and 
it would soon be known, that a white man was living with the 
blacks, and he would be blamed for many of the collisions and 
murders on both sides, which he knew would be the result. 

He had also an irresistible longing to live once more among 
a Christian people, and enjoy, if he might be allowed, the 
blessings of civilization, and also that he might end his days a 
Christian, as he had been brought up in his childhood. 


In telling all this, Booralsha's manner was calm, and his- 
voice was low and pleasant, and entirely free from colonial 
slang and oaths. He was, to me, a quiet and most interesting" 
person to talk to, and no more useful man could be attached 
to a surveying party, for he could tell them the native name 
of every prominent feature of the country they were surveyings 
for the natives had names for everything, for every remarkable 
natural object, be it mountain, river, or plain, or for plants or 
animals. Such was Booralsha's statement. 

Had the surveyor's instructions required them to make 
notes of these native names, and make use of them when 
practicable, the maps of this colony, and, I may say, of other 
colonies, would not be disfigured and desecrated with the silly 
and inappropriate names, so numerous and prevalent as they 

But as the subject of naming places would be too obtrusive 
here, and occupy too much space, I will give my remarks in 
the appendix. — See Appendix M, 

What became of Booralsha I never knew, and I never 
saw him again, although everyone in the colony seemed to 
know Booralsha, I never could learn anything of his where- 
aboutSi I remember the morning after my interview, some 
two or three natives came to the surveyors' camp, I believe 
they had knowledge of his being there, and as soon as they 
came in sight of each other, the natives cried out : " Ah 1 
Booralsha, Booralsha, Booralsha," their joy on seeing him 
being excessive. 

What was the end of him ? 

My impression has always been that colonial history 
would be sure to contain some notice of Booralsha. That 
someone would be sure to take advantage of so rare an 
opportunity to gain a knowledge of his extraordinary adven- 
tures; that some ethnologist interested in the study of the 
many varieties of the human race, would have sought from 
him information respecting the customs, habits, traditions. 

FIFTY YEARS AGO — 1839 OT 1 844. 23 1 

and religion of the natives, yet I have searched every book 
that I could come across, written about this colony, and can 
find not a word about Booralsha. He must have long, long 
ago left this world, and his many interesting experiences have 
died with him. Not so the names of the jailors who ruled at 
intervals over this " hell upon earth," this prison, they are all 
well preserved. 

Like another man of his class in the district of Port 
Phillip, who escaped from the first ship load of convicts, landed 
there as an experiment, and afterwards withdrawn ; Buckley 
by name, who lived amongst the blacks for twenty years, not 
a single notice can 1 find that this man's extraordinary know- 
ledge and experience were ever utilized. The colonists, in both 
colonies, seem to have been like their several Governments, 
supine, and caring for nothing but greed and gain. * 

The particulars I have given of Booralsha's career, whilst 
living among the natives, are of necessity, only a fraction 
compared with what might have been gained by any intelligent 
official, when he was in the charge, and the employ of the 
Government. One would think the doing this, would have been 
congenial employment for the missionaries, who were sent out 
to convert the natives, and who made use of Booralsha as an 
interpreter, but they apparently had no time, they were other- 
wise engaged. How they were engaged 1 intend to explain 
further on. 

The colonial population, of what is now called Queens- 
land, was at this time peculiar and unnatural. There were 
very few women. The larger proportion were men, and young 
men, old men and children being rarely seen, and the greater 

* For a similar experie ce to that of Booralsha, see an interesting article in 
Chamber's Journal, for September 12th, 1891, entitled: " The wild White-man 
of North Queensland." So much do the incidents in the career of that wild 
white-man, res^^mble those experienced by Booralsha, that they who Should 
read both, would be inclined to think that the description given of Booralsha, 
aiid his experiences may be a reproduction of those of the Wild white-man. But 
these particulars of Booralsha's ccureer , and the whole of this Book of Adventure, 
were written more than 12 months, before the article in Chamber's Journal 
appeared. And there must be still living in Queensland some few who remem- 
ber Booralsha. 


number were " old hands." Of the free immigrants, the greater 
proportion were Irish and Scotch, an English immigrant was 
rarely seen. The English that were there, were nearly all 
" old hands," freed from penal servitude. There were very 
few women, but married immigrants were beginning to arrive 
and.locate themselves in the country bordering on Brisbane 
Town, further in the interior would not have been safe. Two 
or three married couples occupied stations near us, and all the 
men of all classes thought much of them, owing to their rarity. 

I remember the wife of one of our neighbours had a child. 
She had no doctor, for there were none near for many miles, 
yet she got over her confinement very well. It was interesting 
to see how the men from far and near travelled to their station, 
just to have a look at the mother and child, and all with 
presents of something acceptable to the young couple. They 
were Irish Protestants, from the fwrth of Ireland, and I went 
like the rest to see them, along with an Irish Roman Catholic 
from the south of Ireland. It was amazing and amusing also, 
to see how such antagonistic elements could settle down cosily 
and amicably together, when mixed up in a far off colony, and 
away from the social, religious, and political influences, spites 
and distractions of their own country. I asked my Roman 
Catholic companion how he had managed to shake himself free 
from the old hateful prejudices, the hatred and malice and all 
uncharitableness, so eminently characteristic of his country- 
men, be they Catholics or Protestants. 

** Oh !" he said, " Here we forget them all. Had we been 
in our own country, we should have been ready to cut each 
other's throats, the first opportunity. Here we are all friendly." 
And I believe that could be said of both parties. 

I remember long after this, and nearer home, holding an 
argument with an old lady, a north of Ireland Methodist, and 
telling her that Irish Roman Catholics were Christians, and 
that the missionaries she was recommending should be sent to 
convert them to her own more loving and lovely type of Chris- 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. 1839 TO 1844. 233 

tianity, might be better and more profitably employed ; when 
she answered me with a " What !" and a convulsive snap of 
the jaws, that reminded me of the setting free the spring of a 
steel rat trap, for the Protestantism of this old lady was very 
energetic, and very dogmatic ; reminding me of a saying I once 
heard : That dogmatic Christianity was only another name for 
mad-dog Christianity ; a proverbial expression not far from the 
truth, so far as regards the north of Ireland. 

I will now leave dogmatic Christianity and get to some- 
thing else. 

The women, in these early colonial days, had a fine time 
of it and seldom did they condescend to do any work. I saw 
one, the wife of an overseer, lounging about her hut, doing 
nothing, whilst a man was washing her own and her husband's 

How many thousand sheep we had I do not remember. 
It was about the commencement of the lambing season when 
I joined them, and the sheep shearing followed. That work 
was alwaj^s done by men who made it their occupation, 
travelling from one station to another, earning something like 
one pound a day and rations. The sheep shearing season 
over, they would drift down to some public-house, which they 
would not leave until they had been cleaned out to the last 

The shearing season on this establishment began, owing 
to orders from Sydney, before the lambing season was over, 
the sheep having to be driven for that purpose, from the out- 
stations to the head station, causing the loss of many lambs 
which could not travel, therefore being left behind in the bush, 
so great was the haste to get the fleeces off the backs of the 
sheep. I remember in passing from station to station, meet- 
ing on their journey to the head station, a large flock of ewes, 
in charge of two Irishmen, one was an old man named 
Cassidy, a free man then, but had been transported, the other 
was an old discharged soldier. 


Cassidy was an excellent shepherd, and so careful of his 
sheep. He could not have loved them more had they been hisr 
dearest relations, supposing they were dear to him. He was- 
on his way with his flock, and, to make any headway, he had 
continually to leave behind him young lambs, too young to^ 
travel. It was pitiful to see poor old Cassidy, how bitterly he 
cried and lamented, the having to leave behind him these poor 
unfortunate lambs. Certain destruction was their lot before 
the next morning, for the wild dogs would be sure to devour 
them during the night. And I could not help him, for such 
were the senseless orders from head-quarters, and such the 
wasteful mismanagement. But the step taken was urgent. 
Money was wanted at Sydney, " times *' were bad, and every 
day getting worse ; stock stations were almost unsaleable, the 
only saleable article being wool. 

The summer was very hot, and although the men's huts 
were airy, we generally preferred sleeping outside, when there 
were no natives about, or they were not hostile, which was the 
case in this locality ; and we had also a number of dogs, ever 
ready to give an alarm, but inside the huts the air was close 
and mosquitoes troublesome. But these pests were only a. 
nuisance during the height of summer. Outside we could 
manage them. Laying down the beds outside the hut, we 
would make a fire near our heads of dried cattle dug, dry as 
tinder, or sheep dung, if that could not be got. This fire would 
smoulder for hours, and the smoke from the cattle dung had a 
musky smell, not at all unpleasant, and nothing could equal it 
for keeping off mosquitoes. 

The winter months were delightful, and there were no 
mosquitoes then. In such a climate, noxious insects might be 
expected to abound, and yet after all, they were not so numerous. 
Sometimes we would come across a snake, or centipede, or a 
tarantula, but not often. The tarantula was called by the 
" old hands," a ** triantilope." There was a spider peculiar to 
this part of the country, I never saw it elsewhere, and it was 
a big one, and in the open forest hung its web from tree to- 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. — 1 839 TO 1 844. 235 

tree, a web I should think strong enough to capture a small 
bird. The web hangs about the height of a horse-man. I 
know this much, in cantering through the open forest, I have 
ridden against one of these webs, which has enveloped my 
head and shoulders before I could see it, and pull up. It had 
a nasty sticky clammy feeling, but there was no fear of the 
spider, he would drop on to the ground and run off. 

Stations were numerous in our neighbourhood, and near us^ 
were some sheep stations belonging to the Government, and not 
yet discontinued, and all in charge of convicts ; at all these 
stations, as might be expected, curious characters were to be 
met with, either residents or visitors. 

One of the shepherds was very fond of recitations, and 
his favourite author was Shakspeare, a volume of which he had 
with him, bought in Sydney. It was astonishing how many 
of the passages in Shakspeare he knew off by heart. He was 
proud of his declamatory powers, and many times I have 
visited him and enjoyed his recitations, and others have done 
the same. This man was also an " old hand," an emancipist. 

Whilst in this establishment, I had one more adventure 
with the blacks, or to speak more correctly, with a black. I 
was travellmg on foot to one of the stations, when I came to a 
large lagoon of clear water. The day was a very hot one, and 
I thought I would have a bath. The lagoon might be fifty 
yards wide, and more than that in length. Having stripped, 
I plunged in, and, whilst swimming about, I turned my head, 
and saw, standing near to my clothes, a tall, strongly-made 
black-fellow, havincf with him his spears and other weapons. 
He was alone, and quite naked, as they usually were in the 
hot summer weather, with the exception of the usual girdle, 
made of 'possum skin, round his waist. I was not long mak- 
ing the land, where he was standing, and hastily putting on 
my clothes. The black was so tall that he seemed to be half 
a head at least, taller than myself, and my height was, accord- 
ing to military measurement, five feet ten-and-a-half inches^ 


Had he been so disposed, he could have sent a spear through 
me whilst in the water, but he behaved very well, and only 
asked me for tobacco, which I no doubt gave him ; and also 
where I lived, and my fears respecting him soon left me. 

Whilst we were talking together, a wild duck alighted on 
the lagoon, immediately afterwards leaving it and alighting on 
the bank on the opposite side. This incident put an end at 
once to our talk, for the black-fellow, poising his spear, sent it 
after the bird, only just missing it, the spear lodging in the 
bank. As the bird flew away, he sent after it his bomerang. 
That also missed it, and then we parted, for the black-fellow 
threw his remaining spear in the same direction, plunged into 
the water, and swam over in order to regain his weapons, 
after which he proceeded on his journey without troubling me 
any more. 

This incident furnishes me with a good illustration as to 
how the blacks were treated in those days. Had this black- 
fellow sent a spear through me and killed me, my body would 
have been found, showing the spear wound ; then a hue and 
cry would have been raised, and a strong muster of horsemen 
and dogs would have scoured the country around, and the fate 
of any blacks met with, sealed, no matter how innocent they 
might be, probably the real murderer escaping. Was it any 
wonder that the blacks should act in like manner in revenge 
for one of their own number being killed, seeing that the whites 
set them the example ? 

And yet the white " settlers " would complain that the 
blacks had gone and murdered an innocent man, one who had 
done them no harm, one who was inclined to be friendly with 

The proper course, in case of hostility with the blacks, 
was to lay a complaint before the Crown Land Commissioner. 
Yes ; and no doubt that would be done, but it was not the 
custom to depend upon his interference, or to wait for his 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. 1 839 TO 1 844. 237 

Once we had a visit from a Roman Catholic priest, a man 
about thirty years of age, and a very pleasant visitor he was. 
He stayed the night with us, moving on to other stations the 
next day. And once when I was a few days at Cassidy's 
station, we had Bishop Folding, the Roman Catholic Bishop 
of Sydney, and a young student, for guests, and much I enjoyed 
their company. Bishop Folding was one of those lucky men, 
who had the good will and good word of all classes, even of 
Dr. Lang, the head of the Presbyterian Church in Sydney. 
His companionship for that short time was most agreeable. He 
had no assumption of superiority about him, no superfine airs. 
He was quiet and courteous in manner, and pleasant in his 
speech. Not so the young student he had with him. Never 
was there a greater contrast between two men, for he was full 
of fun and frolic, which was never checked by the bishop, who 
merely noticed it all with a smile. It was difficult to believe 
that the young one was training for a Catholic priest. 

We had much trouble to persuade either, to accept our 
raised berths for a sleeping place for the night. They carried 
their own blankets with them, and preferred sleeping on a sheet 
of bark on the floor, and perform their ablutions in a bucket 
outside the hut. 

To all of us, these visits were a treat, to me especially, 
because I was able to learn from them much interesting news, 
of what was passing, and had been passing, in the outside 
world, and they never obtruded their religious views. The 
custom of the Catholic priests, so far as I saw, was, after a 
little desultory conversation, to ask if there were any Catholics 
present, and that was all. In the morning, the priest would 
walk out into the bush, accompanied by whoever was of his 
persuasion, and there they said what they had to say to each 
other. Then the other man would do the same, for both 
Cassidy and his companion were Roman Catholics, and no word 
having reference to religious subjects was ever said to me. 
They travelled on horseback, much the same as an ordinary 


bushman, carrying their damper or biscuits, and tea and sug^ar 
with them. Meat they could have at all stations, but I never 
remember seeing them take meat. 

I had now been more than twelve months in the Moreton 
Bay district, and the time was approaching when I might 
expect to hear frofti friends in Sydney and in England. That 
consideration determined me to leave, and again go to Bris- 
bane Town, for at that place was the only Post-office ii;i the 
district, there might have been one or two more on the coast, 
but there were none west of Moreton Bay. On my leaving, I 
received the usual paper money order drawn on Sydney, and, 
taking advantage of one of the drays going down, travelled 
with it. 

And it was now I parted with my poor, handsome, faith- 
ful dog, which had been my companion from the time I left 
the Peel river in New England, and it grieved me much to do 
so. I had this consolation, I knew that the man to whom I 
had consigned the dog, was a real dog's friend, and a truly 
kind-hearted man, although he had formerly been a convict. 

Nothing of importance happened during our journey, and 
we duly arrived in Brisbane Town. My first business being 
to find quarters for the night, which I think was in one of the 
few public-houses there. I do not remember that they were 
any better than those in the bush ; and my first occupation in 
the morning was to find out the real value of the paper money 
orders I had in my possession, for I had a lot of them, drawn 
by different individuals, and if they had been worth anything, 
to a considerable amount. Half of my earnings in the Moreton 
Bay district were drawn on persons in Sydney or the neigh- 
bourhood ; the other half on three different persons in Brisbane 
Town, for my immediate wants. 

On presenting my orders, only one out of the three would 
accept the order drawn on him, and he would only give 
^* goods " or other orders in exchange ; and on these terms I 
was obliged to part with one or two to pay my way. As I 

FIFTY YEARS AGO 1 839 TO 1 844. 239 

liad plenty of time, I tried others. One man, an innkeeper, 
offered to take all I had, at the rate of ten shillings in the 
pound, with the understanding that I should spend the whole 
in his house, which conditions I declined to accept. I then 
applied to the Post-office, hoping to find my expected re- 
mittance, but there was nothing there, but a steamer from 
Sydney was expected in a day or two. Thinking that the 
Crown Land Commissioner, who lived on the other side 
Limestone, could help me, for there was no other magisterial 
authority that I knew of, I made it my business to go to him, 
another journey back into the interior, but he, I found, was 
powerless to help me. And this is what he told me. ** No 
man except those who had been my employers, could be com- 
pelled to pay an order drawn on them, and orders drawn on 
principals, even if they lived in Sydney, must be presented to 
them, which, if they should refuse to pay, I could then put the 
affair into the hands of an attorney, or summons the party to 
tlie Court of Requests in Sydney." I could scarcely have 
believed that this was the law, had I not known the Commis- 
sioner to be a most just man, and one who showed no 
partiality to any individual or class. 

Nothing remained for me to do but return to Brisbane 
Town, and await events, and fortunately for me, the steamer 
from Sydney had arrived during my absence, and which arrival 
brought my money troubles to an end. On asking at the Post- 
office, I found a letter for me, but a postage of sevenpence was 
demanded, the charge from Sydney, and no paper promises to 
pay would be taken there. Notwithstanding I had in my 
pocket orders for about /40, I could not redeem the letter. 

Hearing me complaining, a man, a perfect stranger to me, 
said: ** Here, I will give you sevenpence, go and get your 
letter," and so I was able to redeem it, and which I found, con- 
tained that which I was so much in want of, a Bill of Exchange 
drawn in England, on a bank in Sydney. 

I was now free from all anxiety in respect to the future, 
and was indifferent as to what became of the worthless scraps 


of paper which represented my earnings in the interior. Many 
of them I parted with whilst staying in Brisbane Town, and 
to shew to the colonists of to-day what the financial condition 
of Queensland was thctif I can tell them, that although there 
was some coin in the town, the money in circulation -was 
almost all paper orders, drawn chiefly by settlers in the interior, 
and the change given by the Brisbane Town people, were 
similar orders, drawn by themselves, on themselves ; promises 
to pay cash, which they never did pay. 

It was the most beggarly place for money I ever saw in 
all my travels, and when buying anything, if an order to the 
amount of £1 was presented, and change was due, the pur- 
chaser would probably have twenty pieces of paper returned to 
him, consisting of Promissory Notes and I.O.U.'s, from three- 
half- pence upwards. 

I was now independent of colonial money, but to others 
not so favourably situated, there was nothing before them but 
a life of dissipation and drink, for with the exception of wearing 
apparel, which could be bought at extravagant prices, these 
were the only two things in which a bushman could spend his 
money; and here ends the remarks I have to make on Govern- 
ment mismanagement in the early days. 

I might have sailed for Sydney by the steamer that brought 
my letter, but I decided to stay in Brisbane Town until its 
next return visit, which would be in about ten days. 

Brisbane Town at other times would have been to me a 
very dull place, but after my many wanderings in the interior, 
I found it very agreeable for the short time I stayed there. 

My land journeys were all over now, and primitive as was 
the condition of the town, I could rest and be thankful, and 
enjoy the perusal of newspapers, of which I found plenty, as no 
matter how old they were, all was news to me. There was 
only one thing I wanted, and that was fruit, of which I was 
very fond, but could not get ; there was no fruit at this time 
at Moreton Bay. 

FIFTY YEABS AGO. 1 839 TO 1844. 24I 

Meeting with the CathoHc priest I have previously written 
about, he directed me to a private lodging-house, where I was 
very comfortable, and I was enabled to rig myself out once 
more in the garb of civilization, and say, " begone dull care." 

I had now been nearly five years in the colony, having 
visited it as a working man, in order to gain experience before 
investing money ; and I think most readers must acknowledge 
that I could not have gained that experience in a more practical 
way, and I had every reason to congratulate myself on having 
adopted the plan I did, for had I landed in the colony with all 
I was worth, and invested it at the time, I should, I have no 
doubt, by this time, been in the same position as thousands 
more — penniless ; for that was the condition of many who 
landed in the colony about the same time as I did, and with 

And to all who are thinking of emigrating to the colonies 
the plan which I adopted, is that which I counsel them to do. 
Never invest until a certain amount of colonial experience has 
been gained. If capital is taken out, place it in a Bank, and 
touch none of it, except for pressing needs, but go amongst the 
settlers, and work for anything, or nothing, for the space of 
two years. During that time, close observation and practical 
experience will be found of immense value ; and the advice I am 
giving is not altogether my own, for I have noticed in several 
works on emigration to the colonies, the same, or similar advice 

Whilst I was in Brisbane Town, with plenty of spare time, 
I was able to examine it and its immediate surroundings. 
Brisbane Town was of small extent ; and its best buildings 
were Government stores, barracks, prisons, residences of the 
officials, and such like. There were a few private houses and 
stores, two or three inns of a low class, all either slab-built 
huts, or weather boarded houses. I do not remember one house, 
stone or brick built, private property. What was the number 
of the inhabitants I do not remember, but they must have 



been few, I should think not more than four hundred, for 
according to official statements, the whole of the inhabitants 
of Queensland in 1846, two years after I left it, were only 

The river was a broad one, broad enough, and deep enough 
to allow steamers of a small size to lie alongside, and discharge 
and take in cargo. But the depth and size of the river was 
due to its being a tidal one, not on account of a volume of 
fresh water. It was crossed by a ferry boat, and all 
the houses and Government buildings were on the north side. 
There were none at all on the south side. The banks of the 
river were everywhere dense ** scrub," or jungle. 

Close to the town were what had been Botanical Gardens, 
but at this time they were a wreck. The fences were broken 
down, and the interior a wilderness. There was also a 
cemetery, in much the same condition as the gardens. There 
was nothing in this cemetery that interested me, except the 
grave of Mr. Stapylton, who was killed by the blacks, whilst 
out surveying in this district, he being the same person who 
assisted Major Mitchell when exploring Australia Felix. 
These explorations, at the time, had greatly interested me, and 
I well remembered his name. The stone over his grave was 
of such a soft, friable nature, that it was rapidly crumbling 
away, so much so, that although it had but recently been laid 
down, the inscription on it was scarcely legible. 

I never felt any desire to wander outside the town, bush 
travelling being no novelty to me, but I did think sometimes 
of wandering as far as "Eagle Farm," seven miles from Brisbane 
Town, a farm formed during the penal days of the colony, but 
although the winter season was near at hand, the heat was 
still great, and that prevented me. ** Eagle Farm " was at 
that time still in the hands of the Government, and I have 
regretted since that I did not visit it. 

Everyone was complaining of ** bad times;'* trade there 
was none, money there was none ; the staple products of the 

FIFTY YEARS AGO — 1 839 TO 1 844. 243 

country — live-stock^— were almost valueless. Property in land 
there was none, I don't believe any land had been sold by the 
Government, unless it were a few town allotments in Brisbane 
Town. I might say that there was n o Government, or not much 
worth the name. No wonder the colonists later on, cried out 
for separation and independency, which they ultimately got. 

Such was Queensland in 1844, but that condition of things 
was not destined to last very long, for the natural capabilities 
of both soil and climate were immense, and were only waiting 

This colony which in my time had no trade, and no money, 
and a population under 3,000, I see by the official returns, had 
in 1886, a population of about 342,000 ; its imports amounting 
to ;f 5, 83 1, 561, and its exports to £^^261^26^, Fifteen lines of 
of steamers sailing direct from London, to and from these 
colonies, situated on the Eastern sea-board; the steamers 
making the voyage to Brisbane Town, in about fifty-five days, 
and the sailing vessels in about three months, not as it was in 
my time, in five or six months. Besides these advantages this 
colony of Queensland had in 1886 — 1555 miles of railway, and 
was in direct communication with Sydney by railway, and had 
also, 8,225 n^iles of telegraph in operation, and more, both 
railways and telegraphs in progress. 

And Brisbane Town, which could not have more than four 
hundred inhabitants when I knew it, where there was no money 
and no banks, and where I could not draw upon an English 
Bill of Exchange, drawn upon a bank in Sydney, had in 1 886 — 
51,689 inhabitants, and ten banks, or branch banks, and also 
a Government savings bank, and was in direct communication 
with London, Sydney, Melbourne, and all the Queensland 
ports ; and, instead of a ferry across its river, it had a 
costly iron bridge, and many of its inhabitants, now 
occupying leading positions as merchants, pastoralists, 
professional men, or legislators, once followed a flock of sheep, 
or drove a bullock team, or travelled across country, carrying 
all their possessions on their backs, as I had done. 


Even poor miserable Limestone, the place of only one 
public-house, which Scotty and I on our first visit to it, 
honoured with our company, is now the town of Ipswich, with 
a population of 7576 inhabitants, and the centre of a rich 
mining and manufacturing district. 

To resume my own experiences, the general complaint was 
"bad times." All were doing badly, except some German 
missionaries, so everybody said. They, it was said, were doing' 
well, and carrying on a good trade with Brisbane Town> 
supplying the inhabitants with butter, eggs, fowls, &c., and 
appeared to be the only people doing so ; in that respect, they 
were useful colonists. 

Who, and what were these German missionaries ? Before 
I answer that question, I will make a few remarks about 
missionaries as I knew them, from hearsay, in my school-boy 

When I was a school-boy, my father allowed me two-pence 
a week for pocket money, which he thought almost too much. 
Being an old-fashioned farmer of sixty or more years ago, he 
could not imagine what a boy wanted pocket money for, hav- 
ing, as he said, food, clothes, and house accommodation free. 
But the master and mistress of the school where I was boarded^ 
were strict Wesleyans, and Wesleyanism then was strict, not 
the free and lax sort of thing it is now ; for dancing then, accord- 
ing to Wesleyan theology, was a deadly sin, and novels and 
playing cards the devil's books. The home of a Wesleyan, no 
matter how poverty-stricken it might be, was never without 
a missionary box. There it was on the mantel-piece, staring 
you in the face as soon as you entered, and its office was to 
beg in mute language, a donation for the conversion of the 
heathen, who were, according to Methodist theology, doomed 
to an eternal hell, if not converted. 

John Wesley's hymn book, which we all had, did not leave 
us in doubt on that particular. Good children and converted 
heathens were promised in that book — 

'• A Heaven of joy and peace," 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. — 1 839 TO 1 844. 245 

but wicked children and unconverted heathens were given to 
understand that : 

** There is a dreadful hell, 

** Of everlasting pains, 

" Where sinners must with devils dwell, 

*' In darkness, fire, and chains." 

This being so, we were told that it was our duty to sub- 
scribe to missions, and, in consequence, my two-pence a week 
was reduced to one penny, the half of my allowance being 
given to missions. It was certainly supposed to be a volun- 
tary offering, but we dare not refuse. One boy had the 
audacity to do so, but what he gained in money, he lost in 
other ways, for he was a ** marked boy," and always in trouble, 
and what that meant in those days was, along with other dis- 
agreeables, a severe caning, he getting more than a boy's usual 

Do not let the reader infer from these remarks that the 
w^ork of the Wesleyans was of no value, they have made mis- 
takes, it is true, but John Wesley was an honest and good man, 
and did the nation an inestimable service. He was instru 
mental in putting new life into the State religion, which in his 
time was not a religion at all, but a dead thing, and as corrupt 
as ever it was before the Reformation. 

There was one thing we gained by our missionary sub- 
scriptions, for every year or half-year, we got a littk two- 
leaved missionary tract (only given to subscribers), in which 
was a picture (and pictures were very rare then) showing the 
result pf our voluntary contributions ; little black children, 
and men and women, happy and contented under their palm 
and cocoa-nut trees, drinking in a knowledge of the Christian 
Faith, from the lips of a pious, self-denying missionary. 

I remember whilst at this school, long before I left, we 
had a missionary meeting in the little village chapel, and this 
would be as far back as the ** twenties," or about the year 
1825. A platform was erected, and amongst the speakers was 
a missionary from New Zealand, a place in those days, so far, 


far away, that our young minds could with difficulty realize 
the immensity of the distance, for the voyage to New Zealand 
and home again, would be certain to occupy twelve months. 

I remember, young as I was, the discourse of the mission- 
ary from New Zealand interested me much, for I was from a 
child fond of hearing, or reading of foreign lands; and his 
description of missionary progress, amongst the New Zealand- 
ers, and self-sacrificing labours of the missionaries, almost 
reconciled me to the loss of my weekly penny. 

That was my earliest introduction to missionaries and their 
labours ; that missionaries were a zealous self-denying body^ 
devoting their lives to saving the heathen from eternal perdition^ 
could not, we felt, be denied. 

New Zealand, up to 1840, had been for many years sub- 
ject to irregular settlement by Europeans, the islands being 
under the Government of the native chiefs. But in 1840, or 
thereabouts, the British Government took formal possession of 
these islands, said to be by desire of the native chiefs. 

The very first work of the new Government, was to 
establish a Land Court, to revise and settle the many claims 
made by European settlers to land in the colony, which they 
claimed to derive from grants made by the native chiefs, for sa 
preposterous were some of these claims, that had the original 
grantees been permitted to hold the land they claimed, there 
would have been little left for future colonization. One man 
claimed a tract large enough to make a small English county, 
which he had bought for a quantity of muskets and blankets,, 
how many I don't remember. 

The Land Court being established, all these grantees had 
to produce their claims and title deeds for revision and settle- 
ment, and amongst them were the missionaries. Having no- 
documents by me to substantiate my assertions, I cannot say 
for certain what were the claims of these missionaries, but if I 
remember aright, the Wesleyans claimed about ;f 20,000, for 
lands and improvements on them, and the Church of England 

FIFTY YEARS AGO 1 839 TO ' 1 844. 247 

missionaries much more. I know these claims were considered 
so extravagant, that Dr. Lang, who was indefatigable in his 
attacks on colonial abuses, more especially when those abuses 
had reference to religion, wrote a pamphlet about these claims, 
which pamphlet I saw, either in 1840 or 1842, when I was in 
Sydney. I am sorry now that I did not retain in my posses- 
sion one of these pamphlets. 

That was my second experience in relation to missionary 
enterprise, and I must confess, the doctor's pamphlet modified 
my first impressions, gained when at school. — For more detailed 
Particulars f see Appendix N. 

My next experience was of the German missionaries at 
Eagle Farm, Moreton Bay. 

Who, and what were these German missionaries ? 

I don't know, and no one else knew, except that they were 
some three or four or more families of missionaries, for they 
were married and had children, so I heard, and that the 
Government in consideration of their pious and philanthropic 
labours amongst the blacks, had stationed them at ** Eagle 
Farm." Why they were called German missionaries was also 
a mystery, for it is not very likely that Germany would send 
missionaries to an English colony, forty-six years ago ; neither 
did I ever hear of them speaking the German language. I am 
sorry now I did not visit them at ** Eagle Farm " ; but I did not 
at that time, take that interest in these and other things as I 
have since done, with a wider development of both mind and 

Very little seemed to be known about these missionaries, 
or of their labours amongst the blacks. They were best known 
as purveyors of butter, eggs, &c., to the town of Brisbane. 

That they did make it their business to visit the blacks is 
certain, for I remember Booralsha saying, that he had been 
with them as interpreter, to the Bunya mountains. Wide Bay, 
114 miles north of Brisbane Town, where at certain seasons, 


the natives from far and near, assemble to gather and eat the 
Bunya fruit, a fruit something like a chesnut. I never heard 
of them at any other time visiting the natives, or receiving 
visits from them, although they might do so, and I not know it. 

The blacks, from what I could learn, did not like the 
missionaries, and if asked why, they said they were " Murra 
wiaroo " (too much greedy). 

The settlers near Brisbane Town, when the blacks were 
peaceable, would generally give them something, such as flour, 
meat, sugar and tobacco, but the missionaries would give them 
nothing. So the blacks said. 

These missionaries were appointed by some Society to 

labour amongst the natives, and convert them to Christianity, 

but what Society I don't know. Sent to convert them to the 

white man's religion, the religion of those who had stolen from 

them their country, destroyed their game, and driven them into 

the inaccessible mountains and ** scrubs" by the help of fire-arms, 

horses and dogs, and occasionally a dose of poison. From 

what I could learn from Booralsha, they made no converts, 

and if they had, I should think no one would have been more 

surprised that the missionaries themselves, if they had in them 

any true missionary instinct. Neither did they attempt to teach 

them the fundamental principle of Christianity, the negation of 

self ; doing unto others as they would others should do to them. 

In place of that they tried to teach them a creed. They asked the 

blacks if they knew who made them, and all things around 

them. Their answer not satisfying the missionaries, they 

told them that it was a God above, who was the Creator 

of all things, looking up at the same time to the sky. 

The blacks also looked, but as they could see nothing unusual, 

they told Booralsha to tell the missionaries they were liars. 

Dogma — not the living of a life, was all these missionaries had 

to offer for the conversion of these blacks — that they were 

" lords of creation," like the whites, and made after God's own 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. 1 839 TO 1 844. 249 

image, and so on, and so on. This must have impressed them 
deeply, from their own experience of the white-man. Such was 
Booralsha's testimony. 

These missionaries' mode of indoctrinating the blacks with 
the truths of Christianity was the usual common-place theo- 
logical teaching practised in English Sunday Schools with 
children, all their lives under the influence of Christian parents, 
and whose surroundings corresponded ; where religious teachers 
have it all their own way, and no questions asked. It never 
seems to have entered into the heads of these missionaries how 
widely different was the soil on which they were desirous of 
scattering the seeds of the white-man's religion, and the 
example these blacks had before them of the results of that 
religion. They seem to have forgotten that their own Scrip- 
tures taught them, ** that every tree is known by its fruit ; that 
a good tree bringeth forth good fruit, but that a corrupt tree 
bringeth forth evil fruit : Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know 
them,'' If these missionaries choosed to ignore this funda- 
mental doctrine of their own religion, the common-sense of the 
blacks, without the help of missionary teaching, had long ago 
convinced them of the truth of that doctrine. The blacks 
evidently had no faith in these missionaries. 

But it may be asked : — Was Booralsha's testimony trust- 
worthy. That, I feel sure it was, for no man could be more 
reverent when speaking on religious subjects. Booralsha might 
not be well versed in creeds, but I believe he was a truly 
religious man. 

The missionaries were wise not to tell them that " the 
denial of self " was the fundamental principle of "the white- 
man's religion, for had they done so, the blacks might have 
ordered them about their business, as hypocrits and deceivers, 
for there was a great deal of shrewdness about them, and they 
were just the sort of people to tell the missionaries to devote 
their spare time to converting the whites. And that was their 
first duty, if they had known their duty ; to preach to the 


whites; to lift up their voices against injustice, oppression and 
wrong, but that they never did. It would be interesting to 
know what sort of report these missionaries sent to the Parent 
Society, for a report they would be sure to send, and that one 
for the year 1844, must have been both curious and in- 

I have several times had occasion to make remarks about 
the aborigines of Australia, the result of my own observation 
and experience, and that of others, but I have not exhausted 
the subject by a long way. But since these remarks were 
written, I have had the opportunity of reading a book recently 
published, ** Gum Boughs and Wattle Bloom," by Donald 
Macdonald, a book most pleasantly written, and which all, 
interested in things Australian, ought to read.* The writer is 
a student of Nature, and is describing the Victorian Lake 
country, the Victorian land of promise, and although his re- 
marks apply more especially to the aborigines of the southern 
colony of Victoria, they are, in some respects, equally as 
applicable to those of the district of Moreton Bay. And the 
following is what he has to say about the southern natives ; 
I italicize a few words of special significance. 

" I have passed many winter nights at the fireside listen- 
ing to stories of colonial life in this region, of the perils and 
privations borne by the pioneer settlers." 

" Women, too, had to face the hardships of pioneer life. 
One of them, with her great-grand-children growing up around 
her, to-day tells stories of those early days, when Melbourne 
was a hamlet, and Geelong a couple of tents. Sometimes, 
when the bullock teams were away to the sea-port for fresh 
loading, the women were left for weeks alone — aliens in 
the midst of savages, and at their mercy. These were women 
fit to be the mothers of a new nation. For a time the whites 

♦ Wattle bloom, is really acacia blossom, the colonists giving the name of " wattle" 

to the aoa.cia. 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. 1839 TO 1 844. 25! 

lived on suiFrance among the blacks, by and by the position was 
reversed. The blacks, it is said, have fallen before civilization. 
The degraded remnants of savagery who pick up a living about 
bush-townships are surely our handiwork. They have been 
civilized with rum. Whatever knowledge we lack of other 
aboriginal customs, with their burial rites we should he familiar. 
We are indeed a civilizing race. When we came here, the 
aborigines covered these wide plains in thousands. Where are 
they to-day ? We have civilized them — they are dead. Their 
marriage laws were as strict as ours, their morality stricter, their lives 
healthier, and their sports purer, but we have reformed all this^ 
As a unit amongst these reformers, I cannot say that I am 
proud of the work. But modesty is one of our national traits J" 

" The reason we know so little about these aborigines, is, 
that instead of studying them, we shot them. Old colonists say^ 
that some reformers of the old days, were rather less cere- 
monious in shooting an aborigine than a wild dog. Indeed the 
latter incident was the more rare — the dingoes (wild dogs), had 
not the same confidence in our good intentions. Buckley, the 
wild white-man, was never so badly disposed towards those of 
his own colour, as when he heard of fresh outrages on the blacks, 
and news of that kind was seldom scarce, he knew the black 
people as no one else did, and was their advocate and defender to 
the last J" 

*' Some of us Australians to-day know from those whose 
words we cannot doubt — that viewed in the light of their own 
customs and traditions, the blacks are not naturally the thiev* 
ing, deceitful, drunken vagabonds of popular fancy. When 
mothers did not hesitate to give their infants in charge to the 
native women, to carry away through the bush, amongst the 
trees and the wild flowers, and keep them all day long, they 
must have had no qualms about their being trustworthy. And 
they were more tender with the little ones, and cared for them 
more faithfully, than the modern nurse-girl inspired by thoughts 
of her policeman." 


** One can almost believe that these people in their religion 
blended the most revered of Christian truths, with the principles 
of advanced thought — the orthodox doctrine of our eternal 
heaven above the clouds, with the Darwinian theory of descent 
from the lower animals — two latter-day extremes thus meeting 
in the old-time philosophy of a nation of savages." 

" When the white-men, by way of sport, or to preserve 
their pastures, destroyed the kangaroos and emus, that from 
time immemorial had been the native hunter's best game in the 
west, it was not a startling act of retaliation when the black 
man killed a stray sheep at times. Yet in such cases, the old 
Jewish ordinance of a life for a life was religiously enforced." 

" Once upon a time, long ago, a native was caught red- 
handed at sheep killing, and taken to the station, so that he 
might be handed over to the authorities. There had been 
a wholesale case of poisoning on a ** run " close by, or even 
this formality would not have been observed. Some ** dampers " 
(colonial bread) were baked specially for the local tribe, but the 
act of Christian charity was marred through the cook using 
arsenic instead of salt for seasoning. Nasty rumours had got 
about, and the authorities, scores of miles away, talked of an 
enquiry. Instead, therefore, of putting a bullet through this 
wretched sheep-killing savage, without ceremony, they 
fastened him to a dead tree trunk, with a bullock chain. One 
day he knocked the staple from the log, and gathering up the 
chain, got away into the bush, but dogs were laid on to his 
track and he was run down, and brought to bay, on a log in 
the middle of a river, with the ponderous bullock chain still 
hanging on his arms. When the station people reached the 
bank, the poor hunted vagrant philosophically wound the chain 
about his neck and drowned himself. The men took some 
trouble to recover the body, not because the black Spartan 
deserved at least a grave, but because bullock chains were 

"Had this savage been partly civilized, he would have 
stood his trial and proved an alibi" 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. 1 839 TO 1 844. 255 

Such is the short and characteristic description of the 
early settlement of the colony of Victoria, by one who has long 
been resident there, and whose writings on the natural history 
of the Province and its early colonization, are, I believe, highly 
appreciated by his fellow colonists ; and the English reader 
may be pardoned for asking : Is that statement true ? Is that 
really a truthful description of the methods adopted by a 
nation calling itself Christian in its dealings with the native 
inhabitants of a country of which they had taken forcible 
possession, not two or three centuries ago, but in the memory 
of many now living ? I for one, have no reason to doubt the 
writer's statements, for much contained in them agrees with my 
own experience, and the whole contents of the book show him 
to be well acquainted with his subject, and a painstaking 

One statement in the foregoing extract ought to bring the 
blush of shame to the cheeks of many a self-righteous 
Christian. The friend of the oppressed blacks, and the man 
who sympathized with their wrongs, was not a missionary, or 
pious professor, but Buckley, the ex-convict, the social out- 
cast by the laws of his country, who had lived with the blacks 
for more than twenty years ; and Booralsha, I know, cherished 
the same sentiments. They both, like the thief on the cross, 
had pity on suffering humanity, when the orthodox of their 
respective generations and religions had none. 

To send missionaries to teach these people a ** creed " was 
a farce, like the giving of a pious tract to a starving family, and 
that was not an unusual thing in former times, neither is it 
now. The blacks wanted, not the white man*s creed, but 
justice, which these missionaries, had they known their duty,, 
would have used their influence to obtain for them. 

The reader will have noticed, the author of " Gum Boughs 
and Wattle Bloom," writing of the blacks, says : " Their 
marriage laws were as strict as ours, their morality stricter, their lives 
healthier, and their spcrts purer,'' A large claim to make on be- 


half of a so-called race of savages, we have all been taught to 
believe rank among the lowest in the scale of humanity; a 
claim, apparently so preposterous, needs to be examined in 
detail, and which I will now do. 

" Their marriage laws were as strict as ours,'' On this par- 
ticular I have already given my opinion in Chapter VII., where, 
it will be seen, we substantially agree. 

** Their lives were healthier,'' until white men introduced 
disease amongst them ; and their customs gave no sanction to 
any form of priestly despotism ; and they had no religious or 
funeral rites, or mind -torturing superstitions involving human 
or animal sacrifice and torture, like many other savage nations. 
They had none. 

And, says the writer : ** Their sports were purer," and this 
axiom of his, though apparently most absurd, if anything, has 
in it the most truth, for our civilized sports are every day be- 
coming more savage. These savages, as we in our self-conceit 
call them, had their periodical tribal assemblages, where they 
danced the corroboree, and contended with each other in 
throwing the spear and bomerang, afterwards dispersing to 
their respective districts. Field sports, strictly speaking, they 
had none. Their hunting of wild animals was in no sense a 
sport as we define it, but a necessity. They hunted wild 
animals for food ; they might have found this occupation to be 
a sport, but food was their object, and the animals hunted by 
the blacks had a boundless extent of country to take refuge in, 
and all their natural instincts for their own preservation in full 
activity. There was fair play between the hunters and the 
animals hunted, and the skill and resource displayed on the 
part of these hunters might with propriety be called manly, 
which is more than can be said of some of the sports indulged 
in by people of the present day calling themselves civilized, in 
which animals are the victims. 

They had nothing corresponding to the noble sport of 
fox-hunting ; or that other noble sport, hunting, worrying, and 


FIFTY YEARS AGO. 1 839 TO 1 844. 255 

mangling a tame deer, therefore the author of ** Gum Boughs 
and Wattle Bloom " was perfectly justified in describing the 
sports of the Australian natives as being purer than ours. 
The contrast between civilized and savage sport merits a wider 
treatment, which the reader will find in — Appendix 0. 

The blacks are too much children of nature, ever to be 
<:ivilized, and it is well for them they are so, judging civiliz- 
ation by many of our own civilized habits. They are by 
nature, instinct, and necessity hunters, and hunters they will 
remain till their extinction. Neither were they cowards. They 
could, and did, fight desperately against the white-man, and 
against tremendous ** odds " ; and they committed at different 
times and places, many murders of white-men. And what 
wonder, considering the provocation they received. In their 
primitive state, before white-men came into their country, they 
lived happy lives, happy indeed, compared with the misery 
and wretchedness, poverty and starvation, and injustice and 
oppression, which was the lot of the poor at this time in 
Christian England, and which those in power refused to 

After this long digression, I must come back to personal 
matters. Having written so much in disparagement of the 
work carried on by missionaries in this district, I shall in all 
probability, be put down as an enemy to missions and mission- 
aries, which I am not. All missionaries are not alike. There 
, have been self-denying missionaries, who have done a noble 
work, and when the right men are found, and the right methods 
employed, no other human agency can exercise so beneficient 
an influence, on the dark places of the earth, as a self-denying 
missionary, whose whole heart is in his work. Missions have 
done much good, and are destined to do much more, but not 
as they are often managed, by the well-paid officials in office 
at home. But even in that far distant time of fifty years ago, 
there were missionaries to be found of the right sort, and in 
this district of Moreton Bay. 


Standing on the river bank one day, whilst at Brisbane Town, 
a large, fine whale boat, manned by natives, steered alongside, 
and making the boat fast, all came on shore. There was one 
white-man who steered the boat. I found on inquiry, that 
they had come from Moreton island, a large island at the 
entrance to Moreton Bay, where these black natives and many 
more lived, in charge of two Roman Catholic Missionaries, and 
the steersman of this boat was one of them. He was dressed 
much like a bush-man, but with a difference, and wore the usual 
broad brimmed light cabbage tree hat. The blacks were all 
fine men, tall, and evidently appeared to live well and enjoy 
life, and their manner was joyous and merry, and their steers- 
man spoke to them in their own language. He needed no 
interpreter. After waiting two or three hours, and shipping' 
a few stores, they departed: Making some inquiries, I found 
that these missionaries did not pay an occasional visit to the 
blacks, but lived with them, acted as their friends and coun- 
sellors, civilized them by precept and example, and taught 
them the arts of civilized life. They were the sort of mission- 
aries to make headway, and they did so. 

I do not write thus favourably of these missionaries, 
because I, myself, am a Roman Catholic, for I am not one, nor 
a religious sectarian of any kind, nor have I any predilections 
for or prejudices against any sect, as a sect, having long since 
found out that goodness of heart, has no connection with the 
wearing of any particular sectarian livery. I have found good 
people in every sect, and also amongst those making no religious 
profession whatever, as this narrative repeatedly shows ; and I 
have met with those professing and calling themselves 
Christians, who were nothing but shams — wolves in sheep's 
clothing. Regular attendance at church or chapel does not 
always make the true Christian : 

** A man may cry church, church at every word, 
And not have more piety than other people. 
The jackdaw is'nt a religious bird. 
Although he keeps caw, cawing from the steeple.** 

FIFTY YEARS AGO — 1 839 TO 1 844. 257 

So wrote the late Thomas Hood, the author of that pathetic 
poem — " The song of the shirt," and I agree with him. And 
in the religious body with which I have been in most intimate 
relation, from childhood upwards ; (the Church of England) 
from some of its clergy I have met with a sympathy and kind- 
ness, and generous help, when in need, trouble, and distress,, 
which I can never repay. 

There were several families of the blacks encamped near 
Brisbane Town, and which I visited, and here for the first 
time I was able to closely scrutinize the black's method of 
throwing the spear and bomerang, their skill in throwing both 
being something extraordinary, more especially the latter 
weapon. Their spears were beautifully made, of a hard dark 
heavy wood, something like rose-wood, and apparently about 
eight feet long, straight as a line, and having a point like that 
of a needle. How they cut them out of the original tree and 
give them such a perfect finish with their imperfect tools, is 
beyond my comprehension. The blacks of the older colony 
throw the spear by the aid of the ** wammera," which acts as a 
lever to propel it, but these blacks throw the spear by the 
hand and arm only, without the " wammera," and with swift- 
ness and precision. I should think a spear would go through 
a man fifty yards distant. 

The steamer at length arrived, and although I had spent 
a pleasant time in Brisbane Town, having plenty of agreeable 
companionship, and many luxuries to which I had long been a 
stranger, I was not sorry to go on board. But had I not had 
the English draft on Sydney, I should have had to remain, for 
my colonial paper was refused, and the English Draft could 
neither be cashed nor negotiated in any way, there being not a 
Bank in the place, and to secure a passage, I had to deposit it 
with the captain. My luggage was of a very limited descrip- 
tion, for I had little more clothing than what I wore. But I 
managed to secure a root of a very beautiful ornamental wood, 



a kind Very rare, and difficult to get at any time. My Bris- 
bane friends strongly recommended me to buy this specimen, 
which I did, and eventually landed in England. 

After a very favourable passage, occupying some two or 
three days, we entered Port Jackson about the middle of 
May, 1844. 



Sail from Sydney in a two-masted Brig, 121 Tons burden — Stormy 
weather — Dismasted oS. Gape Horn, South America — Privations under- 
gone — Put into a Port in Chili for Repairs. 

/^VN my arrival in Sydney I took up my quarters with my 
U Jj old friend, and former shipmate, John Bruse, and 
thoroughly enjoyed the change from the wild life in the 
interior to the comforts to be met with in a city like Sydney. 
But I had many friends and acquaintances there besides the 
one in whose house I was quartered. I found old shipmates 
who came out with me still living in Sydney or the near neigh- 
bourhood, and several whose acquaintance I had made, at one 
time or another, in different parts of the interior, for Sydney 
was the great civilized centre to which all colonists resorted, 
some time or other, either for business or pleasure. 

My Sydney friends were greatly astonished when they 
saw me make my appearance out of the mysterious interior, 
after an absence of two years, during which time, never a word 
had they heard about me, or I of them, until receiving the 
letter ten days before leaving Brisbane Town. They gave me 
to understand that they had frequently written to me, and as 
they never received any letter in return ; and reading, as they 
did in the newspapers, of outrages committed by the blacks in 
the Moreton Bay district, and of the white-men killed by them, 
they had come to the conclusion that I would be one amongst 
the number. My not receiving their letters did not surprise 
me, after the experience I had had of the mismanagement of 
bush Post-offices. 


Most of my old ship-mates were doing well, and some were 
doing very well, among whom was a poor Irishman who lost 
his only child, a bright little fellow, only a few days before we 
entered Port Jackson, and his grief was pitiable to see. 

The anchor chains were already taken from below, and 
laid on the deck, preparatory to casting anchor in the harbour, 
and the little boy was playing on the deck, during which time 
one of the sailors, who by some means or other, had become 
partly intoxicated, when aloft reefing sails or something, fell on 
to the boy, crushing his head against the anchor chains, sa 
that he died very soon after, the sailor escaping without any 
serious injury. All commiserated the poor father, and the 
captain, on our arrival in Sydney, got him a situation in a 
merchant's warehouse, and there he was in the same place at 
this time, but he had evidently not forgotten his terrible losSy 
for terrible it was to him. 

We had on board also a young Irish girl, who evidently 
had been well brought up. She was particularly quiet and 
reserved in her manner, had received a good education, and as 
a rule kept down below, seldom mixing with the rollicking 
young girls we had on board. When we were anchored in 
Watson's Bay she began to feel the lonliness of her position, 
and was looking forward to the future with evident dread, 
knowing that she would in a few hours, be cast on shore in a 
strange country, and what she was going to do she did not 
know. But when we were safe in harbour, swinging at our 
anchor, the captain came below to look around, and congratulate 
the passengers on the happy termination of the voyage, and 
noticed this young girl. I don't think he had spoken to her 
half-a-dozen times during the voyage, but now he seemed to 
take an interest in her, and asked her what she was proposing 
to do. She burst into tears telling him she did not know. The 
captain was extremely kind in his manner, and told her to 
" cheer up " and not to be afraid. He said, ** I have noticed your 
quiet reserved conduct during the voyage, and if you will tell 
me your qualifications, I will try and do something for you." 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. — 1839 TO 1844. 261 

This she did, and I believe unreservedly, and she was evidently 
much comforted. The following morning the anchor was raised, 
and we were soon alongside the circular wharf, and in less than 
twanty-four hours, the captain was able to offer to this young 
girl the choice of two situations, both good and desirable 
ones, and the one she elected to take, was as lady companion 
to an old lady, belonging to the colonial " upper ten," she being 
the widow of a former governor of New South Wales. To 
fill such a situation, it was necessary she should replenish 
her wardrobe, for that was scanty, but she got over that 

Whilst I was staying in Sydney, a carriage with a pair of 
horses, coachman and footman, both in livery, drove up to my 
lodgings, and enquired for me, and in the carriage was a young 
lady, and who should it be but our old ship-mate on board the 
^* Heber," the one who was so depressed in spirits, and so 
kindly dealt with by the captain ; she was very cheerful, and 
said she was very comfortable, and in the same situation still. 
I need not say I was glad to see her, as much as she was to 
see me, for, as I have remarked before, ship-mates in a far off 
country, companions, as of necessity they are, on so long a 
voyage, look upon each other as members of the same family. 
The tie of relationship between ship-mates is, in a far off 
country, the strongest. As a rule, they know each other more 
intimately than they do anyone else. 

I met with so many old acquaintances whilst staying in 
Sydney, that it made the time pass very pleasantly, and made 
me feel as if I was already at home, and, so much so, that when 
I sailed for England, I parted from the place and the people 
with real regret, quite as much so as when I parted from my 
friends in England. 

The improvements made in Sydney since the time when 
I first landed there in 1839 were really wonderful, notwith- 
standing the monetary, pastoral, and commercial depression, 
pervading at this time all the colonies. The streets were now 


rescued from their state of primeval darkness, only relieved 
by a few oil lamps, by the brilliancy of gas, for let it be re- 
membered, gaslight was the highest advance in 1844 in street 
illumination anywhere. 

A fine peal of bells had been added to the Roman Catholic 
Church, and a handsome and commodious new theatre 
occupied a prominent position in one of tlie principal streets 
of the city, and was well patronized, and I did not fail to 
attend it, its dramatic performances were to me an agreeable 
change from the wild corroborees of the natives. 

Sydney at that time was the only town of importance in 
Australia, Melbourne being merely a collection of a few 
straggling houses, and Brisbane Town I have already de- 
scribed. But in Sydney all the comforts and many of the 
luxuries of civilization could be enjoyed, and at a cheap rate. 

But notwithstanding appearances, Sydney was suffering 
from the complete collapse of every colonial industry. The 
colony was in a state of bankruptcy. The available property 
of the colonists was daily being put up for sale by auction, and 
knocked down without reserve, and at the most ruinous prices, 
the markets being glutted with every description of land, 
merchandise, and stock. I saw a flock of sheep, but certainly 
they were afflicted with the ** scab," put upat tenpence per head, 
and yet not a bidding could be got. The same sheep, if in a 
healthy condition, would, on my arrival in the colony, have 
been worth twenty or twenty-five shillings a head ; at any 
rate, they would have been worth that in the Victoria 
Province. The only thing there wa^ to cheer the hearts of the 
colonists, was the certainty that things were at their worst, 
and that any change that might occur must be for the better. 

The reader will remember my employment with the pig- 
keeping overseer, who, on my leaving, gave me an order on his 
employer, who resided at Richmond, seventy miles west of 
Sydney. 1 had still one of these orders for £1^, and as time 
with me was of no consequence, I thought I would pay this 



this time. To most of the men working for hire in the interior, 
these money orders, these promises to pay, must have been a 

The North shore to-day is, I believe. North Sydney, but 
at this time was still a rocky shore, covered with a luxuriant 
growth of bush. One house only was there, at Billy Blue's 
point, and that was Billy Blue's house, a small neat brick-built 
cottage, embowered with roses and climbing plants. 

Billy Blue was a black man, a colonial black, not an 
aborigine. As well as I can remember he was an emancipist, 
and became in some way a nuisance, causing the Government 
to banish him to the other side of the harbour, to the locality 
afterwards called Billy Blue's point ; or it may be, he was ' 
given permission to settle there as a free-man, I cannot say. 
The only inhabitant I saw in the cottage was a black woman, 
neat and clean in her person, and both inside and outside the 
cottage was the perfection of neatness and cleanliness. Not 
another house was then on the North Shore, as well as I can 
remember. I mention this to shew the change that has taken 
place in Sydney harbour. 

Taking a boat and sailing alongside the North Shore, 
towaids the Heads, we pass an indent into the land, which 
seems an indent and no more, but enter it, and we find at a 
sharp bend a narrow channel which leads into a circular basin, 
surrounded by rocks and shrubbery, and a trickling stream of 
water falling from the rocks. What a delicious spot this was 
for a pic-nic ! This is Mossman's Bay, and here, with two or 
three friends, I spent a holiday afternoon. This little Bay was 
a picture, and so secluded and so quiet. I know no spot like 
it so near the great city. At the time we visited it, an Ameri- 
can whaler lay alongside the rocks, having found its way into 
this sheltered spot, and there she lay quiet and secluded, free 
from Custom House or Harbour dues, carrying out some 
necessary repairs, and much this whaler helped to make the 
whole scene a charming picture. I wonder what Mossman's 
Bay is like now? 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. 1 839 TO 1 844. 265 

That was one of my excursions in the neighbourhood of 
Sydney, but the time was coming to think seriously about 
leaving, and that without more delay. 

I remained in Sydney four or five weeks longer than I 
wished, but that was chiefly owing to the scarcity of vessels 
sailing for England, which scarcity was owing to the close of 
the wool season, and the difficulty of obtaining freight, causing 
many vessels to leave the harbour in ballast, and look for 
freight in other Ports. 


What a change has taken place in the mode of' travelling 
by sea since I sailed out of Port Jackson forty-six years ago ! 
(writing in 1890). The passengers now, in going to or re- 
turning from the colonies, step on board a floating palace of 
5,000 tons burthen, or more, propelled by machinery of as 
many horse power. It is not easy to enumerate all the 
luxurious comforts of a first-class passenger on board these 
large steamers. Private cabins and saloons are furnished 
alike in the same luxurious style. In the saloon will be a 
piano and library of books. Couches, settees, and soft 
cushions for those inclined to lounge and take their ease below ; 
the passengers being waited on by stewards and stewardesses. 
Hot and cold water baths at any hour. A public bar for the 
sale of wines and spirits, or pale ale at stated hours ; the whole 
ship being illuminated at night by the electric light. On deck, 
comfortable rooms for smoking, for those wishing to do so, 
and for walking exercise a length of deck which, in seven 
times round, will compass a mile. And if the passenger when 
on deck should be drenched by a heavy sea, not an unusual 
thing in stormy weather, he has nothing to do but go down 
below, strip off" his wet clothing, and hand them to the steward, 
who will dry them in a hot-air chamber in an hour. And as 
to the working of the ship, much that in the old time used to 
be done by hard and perilous labour, is done on these vessels 
by steam -worked machinery, and so is the steering of the 


great monster accomplished by the same means, regulated by 
a touch, by the man at the wheel, a comfortable deck house 
sheltering him from the weather. Meat and vegetables and 
fruit preserved in a fresh condition by refrigerators. New 
made bread every day, and the table supplied with as great a 
variety of dainties as at a first-class hotel ; and when in hot 
latitudes, the saloon passengers, whilst at dinner, have the 
atmosphere cooled by punkahs always in motion. 

The second-class passengers' accommodation on board 
these steamers is not on so luxurious a scale, but yet much more 
so than what was to be met with in the cabin accommodation 
of one of the old sailing ships, and vastly superior to that in 
the cabin of the brig in which I sailed from Sydney. I have 
since that time sailed in more than one of these superb steamers, 
and know the difference. And the ocean route travelled by 
them, is almost all of it in temperate or tropical latitudes, 
which lessens enormously the discomforts of a sea- voyage. 
That luxurious style of travelling was, in our time, unheard 
of, and never dreamt of. Ships and their passenger accommoda- 
tion, were, except in a few of the first-class called " Liners," 
little in advance of the days of Robinson Crusoe. 

There had been for some two or three weeks, only three 
vessels advertised in the Sydney newspapers to sail for Eng- 
land, two brigs and a full rigged ship, and although the date 
of sailing was specified with each, it was well-known that there 
was no dependence whatever to be placed on these dates. All 
knew that these vessels would sail when they had completed 
their cargo, and not before. 

I should have preferred going by the full rigged ship, but 
she was the latest as to date, and as it would probably be a 
month or longer before she \;v^uld sail, I elected to go by the 
first one leaving, and that was one of the two brigs, a small 
two-masted one, being only 121 tons burthen. 

Let the reader notice this — a brig of 121 tons! Travellers 
who now voyage to and from the same Port in steamers of 4 or 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. 1 839 TO 1 844. 26/ 


5,000 tons burthen, may probably look upon this statement as 
a fiction, but those who have the opportunity, and can inspect 
back numbers of the Sydney Morning Herald, for the month 
of June, 1844, will see in the advertisement columns, this same 
brig advertised to sail for England. The brig was named the 
** Skerne," and was one of those strong old oak-built ships, the 
product of the ship-yards in the North of England, and would 
stand almost any amount of rough usage, but were not noted 
for their sailing qualities. Indeed this one, was a vessel which at 
this time was almost out of date, so very old was she, but 
being the first to sail, I determined to take my passage in her. 

In the preface to this book, I have stated that all the 
incidents mentioned in my journeyings are statements of facts, 
and not fictions, and I can say the same of the incidents related 
in connection with this voyage. Some of the names of persons 
are fictitious, but there is not an incident mentioned as having 
occurred, but what really took place. 

The brig was commanded by Captain S., an old ex- 
perienced sailor, and we had also another sea captain on board,, 
as a passenger, a Captain Warner, a nice gentlemanly man , 
and this gentleman being a passenger, helped to banish any 
misgivings I might have as to the possible safety and suit- 
ability of so small a vessel, on so long a voyage, for I could 
not imagine an experienced sea-captain taking a passage in an 
unsafe one. 

Her cargo consisted of oil, wool, and tallow, but there 
was much space in the fore-hold where we were, without 
cargo. The accommodation for passengers, both fore and aft, 
was of a very inferior description, and no one could expect it 
to be otherwise. As to provisions, what we saw when the 
brig lay alongside the wharf, appeared to be very good, and as 
to quantity, the captain gave us to understand, there would be 
no restricted allowance, so long as there was no waste. It 
will be seen further on, how much these promises were worth. 


The sailors in those days had a saying that a ** captain " 
was " a land angel, but a sea devil/' A phrase having refer- 
ence to the pleasant, plausible talk of many captains at that 
time whilst on land, and negotiating with passengers or 
seamen. Captain S. was certainly a very pleasant spoken 
man on shore, and the prospect he held out to us of the com- 
forts and comparative happiness we should enjoy whilst on 
board and under his care, was quite sufficient to dispel any 
uneasiness on that score. 

There was an after cabin, called **the cabin," and a 
steerage cabin. I selected the steerage, under the impression 
that there was little difference between it and the cabin, the 
passage money for the latter being /50 ; for a steerage passage 
/30, making a difference of £2.0. 

I may as well give a list of the provisions allowed to the 
steerage passengers. It can be given in very few words. 
Salt beef, salt pork, hard ship's biscuits, flour twice a week, 
with which to^make sailor's ** duff," that is, flour, water, and 
the fat skimmings from the boiled pork, boiled in a cloth, and 
a certain allowance of tea, coffee, and sugar ; that was all. 
There was no lime juice, so necessary an article at sea ; no 
fresh meat and vegetables, and never any soft bread; tinned 
meats were unknown. The dietary of the cabin passengers 
was much the same, fresh meat at stated times being allowed 
them, there being three or four sheep on board for the purpose ; 
but that fresh meat was wretched stuff, for the sheep dwindled 
away almost to skeletons. These particulars may have little 
interest for the ordinary reader, but to voyagers of the present 
day, they will show the vast difference between then, and now. 

We were but few in number, either passengers or crew, 
there being three cabin passengers, five in the steerage, and a 
crew consisting of captain, mate, carpenter, cook, and four 
seamen and a boy, a number sufficient for so small a vessel, 
but totally inadequate if by accident or sickness any of the men 
should be incapacitated for work. 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. — 1 839 TO 1 844. 269 

Two out of the three of our cabin passengers were ladies, 
one being a widow with two children, able to run about the 
deck, the other a single lady. Neither were advanced in years> 
the widow might be forty years old, the single lady could not 
be more than thirty if so much, and then there was Captain 

Of the steerage passengers, one was a gentleman immi- 
grant, who I will name Carrew, who went out to New South 
Wales with money and large expectations, but lost all and was 
making his way home again. Two Englishmen named respect- 
ively, Leese, and William, and both were emancipists, who 
had done tolerably well, and were wishful to see England again. 
The fourth was an Irishman, well on in years, also an emancipist, 
a devout catholic, his name was O'Neal, and a very quiet well- 
behaved man he was. And I must confess, all of these eman- 
cipists were well behaved, and there conversation was pleasant 
to listen to, and their experiences in the colony very enter- 
taining. I got to like all these men, and no one would suppose 
there had ever been a stain on their character. Leese was a 
Lancashire man, and William (I forget his surname), was a 
native of Whitechapel, of all places in the world, and was 
remarkably cheerful under all adverse circumstances. 

The steerage passengers' quarters were in the fore-hold, 
roughly fitted up with deal bunks, to the right and left of the 
foremast, separated from the forecastle by a bulk head, 
through which was an opening into the forecastle for use in 
bad weather, when all the hatches would be battened down, 
and then all the light we had was from two bulPs-eye deck 
lights, just enabling us to see what we were doing, and no 
more. The forecastle was the sailors' quarters, fitted up with 
berths, very small in size, and a dark, dismal den at the best 
of times. 

I ought not to omit mention of the sailors, as I shall often 
have occasion to refer to them during the voyage. The five 
sailors were respectively named Mac Manus, William Knap- 


man, Jack Lawson, Tom Ferris, and the carpenter, and these 
were their real names ; and there were also the mate, cook, 
and a cabin-boy. Mac Manus was always called ** Mac." 
He was an Irishman, and a fine, handsome fellow, tall and 
straight, with dark hair and whiskers, and the life and soul of 
the forecastle. The weather must be very bad indeed if Mac 
was not cheerful. He was also a Catholic, and had an uncle 
in Ireland in good circumstances, who was going to fit him 
out with a schooner for coasting in the colonies, and Mac was 
going home for the purpose of bringing out the schooner, and 
his prospects were of the rosiest. 

Jack Lawson was an old trustworthy sailor, as also was 
Bill Knapman, who was always called ** old Bill Growl," as he 
was nearly always grumbling about something, especially in 
bad weather, but at other times Bill could be very pleasant. 
His habit of grumbling was all the fault he had. In other 
respects he was a most kind-hearted man, and particularly so 
to dumb animals, cats, dogs, or anything. A cockatoo I had 
on board was a great favourite with Bill. I don't think he' 
-ever missed, when down in the forecastle from his weary watch 
on deck in the stormiest weather, exchanging a kindly word 
with " Cocky," who was always ready to give a kindly response 
in return, which pleased Bill amazingly ; and he was very fond 
of having Cocky on his knee when having his meals. 

The carpenter was an Australian native, quite a boy, only 
just out of his apprenticeship. He was always called " Chips," 
as carpenters generally were called, when at sea. Ferris was 
a Londoner, and had been a boatman in the harbour. The 
boy was only a small boy, and a native of Sydney, and 
although poorly clad, was as hard as iron, and stood the cold 
weather better than any of us passengers. 

Everything being ready for sailing, I took on board my 
goods and chattels, amongst which I had five blue mountain 
parrakeets, and a white cockatoo, and the root of ornamental 
wood purchased in Brisbane Town. That I tied firmly to the 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. 1 839 TO 1 844. 27I 

foot of the foremast, down in the hold, in which were our 
berths, and on the top of it I had nailed a strong perch for the 
cockatoo, which was all it required, for it was as tame and 
tractable, and, I may say, as intelligent and affectionate as a 
pet dog. The parrakeets were confined in a cage, being too 
wild to be at liberty. 

We all had notice on the Saturday that we should sail on 
the following day, Sunday, therefore on that day we were all 
on board, and towards evening our ship was unloosened from 
the side of the wharf, and with a gentle beeze we drifted down 
towards the Heads, anchoring, as was usual in Watson's Bay, 
there to remain until the morning. The day had been a 
beautiful one, a cloudless sky, and a warm sunshine, like one 
of the finest days of an English June, although mid- winter in 
Australia ; and whilst drifting down to our anchorage, we 
passed pleasure boats of all sorts and sizes, and I could not 
help envying their enjoyment, and half wishing I was amongst 
them, but now that could not be. 

Finding that we were not going out to sea that night, and 
that our long boat had to return to Sydney for something, I 
could not forego the opportunity of having another look and 
taking another farewell of my friends there, and much surprised 
they were, and I have good reason to believe, pleased to see 
me once more, and it was not without feelings of regret I parted 
from them for the last time, for to them I was indebted for many 
kindnesses, and I was strongly impressed that I should never 
see any of them again, and I never did. But time steals on, 
and the pleasantest hours the fastest, and I once more was 
gliding through the still waters of the harbour to the vessel 
lying at anchor, where I passed the night. Yet I was a long 
time before I went to sleep, my mind being too much occupied 
thinking over my past life in the colonies, and trjdng to penetrate 
the mysterious future. 

The following morning, being the 17th of June, 1844, we 
weighed anchor, and the wind being favourable, we sailed 


Steadily out into the ocean over which we had so many 
thousand miles to voyage. 

Our course, it must be remembered, was in the direction 
of Cape Horn, the southern-most point of South America, 
where the sea in the winter months is the stormiest, and one 
of the dreariest in the world, that being the homeward bound 
route. There was no Suez Canal then, nor for many years 

I may as well mention I am never troubled with sea-sick- 
ness, not of the stomach at any rate. Also, if my references 
to the working of the ship, are not, technically speaking, as 
strictly- accurate as a sailor would describe them, I trust 
readers qualified to see these defects will please excuse me ; I 
am only a traveller, not a sailor. 

After getting a considerable distance out to sea, we bore 
to the southward, keeping the coast of Australia in view four 
or five days. Its high lands and mountain ranges, all this 
time occupied much of my attention, and pleasant and beauti- 
ful they looked in the clear bright atmosphere of these lati- 
tudes. Well might some of these mountains be called the 
Blue mountains, for the most distant are a beautiful blue, just 
a shade or two darker than the sky ; and they interested me 
as they would no stranger, for over them I had often wandered, 
sometimes with pain, but oftener with pleasure. 

The purpose of our captain was to make to the southward, 
where the westerly winds are most prevalent ; which would be 
favourable winds to us. Soon after we sighted Cape Howe, 
we lost sight of the coast and highlands of Australia, and had 
nothing but the waste of waters around us, and our dismal 
cabin for a resting place, compared with which, the large airy 
huts of the interior, or a ** camp out " in the open forest, would 
have been an enviable luxury. But we were, most of us, 
inured to hardship, and the thought of " " helped us to 
make light of inconveniences. 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. 1 839 TO 1844. 273 

Most people are disposed to hope for the best of any under- 
taking they are engaged in, and such was the feeling with all 
of us. But so far as relates to the voyage, we were fated to 
be disappointed, for on the whole it proved a long and perilous 

During the first two weeks we continued bearing to the 
southward, the weather gradually becoming colder, and the 
clear skies to which we had so long been accustomed, gave 
place to the darker and gloomier skies of these colder latitudes ; 
and although we had not arrived into the region of sleet and 
snow, yet the weather became every day colder and more 
stormy. The studding sails had all been taken in, the top- 
gallant yards and top-masts sent down, and the old sails which 
were only suitable for the light breezes of warmer latitudes, 
were made to give place to newer and stronger, and better 
adapted to the rough weather we were certain to encounter ; 
and the hatches, which, up to this time, had been allowed to 
be taken off in the fine weather, were now battened down, there 
to remain until we had left these stormy latitudes far behind. 

We had continual westerly winds which were all in our 
favour, but they so often increased to a gale, that our vessel, 
not being able to run before them, being too sluggish, built for 
stability, and not for speed, had to be "hove to," that is, 
drifting stern foremost, the ship's head kept to the wind by the 
aid of a close-reefed storm-sail. And when drifting like this, it 
was wonderful how this old " tub " would ride these stormy 
seas, scarcely shipping a spray in twenty-four hours. 

The first of these gales, as near as I can remember, 
happened when we were to the southward of the Auckland 
Isles, lasting three days, the wind being all the time most 
furious, yet it was only the prelude to many more, and more 
disastrous in their effects. 

The captain, during all this time, had become more reserved 
in his manner, and was continually complaining of our ex- 
travagant use of the provisions and water, although there was 



not the least cause for his complaint, but he had found out that 
he had left Port with an insufficient supply, whether knowingly 
or not, I cannot say, and his complaint was only a pretext for 
curtailing our allowance. As a preliminary, he issued an order 
to examine the water casks, on doing which, one was found to 
have leaked out entirely, and several others partly so, in 
consequence of which, our allowance of water was reduced to 
two quarts per day, per man. 

On the 5th of August, only forty-nine days since we left 
Port Jackson, he gave us notice, owing to his having made the 
discovery that only sixteen bags of biscuit had been taken in 
for the voyage, which he solemnly declared he was not aware 
of until then ; our allowance for the future must be only half-a- 
pound per day, each man. Discontent soon followed in the 
wake of these regulations, particularly amongst the sailors, 
who went in a body to the captain in his cabin, and requested 
him to put into some port in New Zealand, that being the 
nearest port of call, in order to lay in a better supply of water 
and provisions ; this he declined to do, but promised to put 
into Pernambuco, in South America, a port lying on the east 
coast of that continent, and which, at our present rate of sail- 
ing, we were not likely to reach in less than three months. 
That promise ended the dispute for a time, but it had given 
rise to a feeling of distrust on the part of the sailors and 
passengers towards the captain, which never subsided during 
the remainder of the voyage, but which would not have been 
the case, had he shown a disposition to sooth the irritation he 
had caused, but his conduct was the very reverse, and he all 
at once was changed from an "angel of light" into the sailor's 
traditionary ** sea-devil," more particularly to those who had 
had the courage to protest against his decrees. 

I never met with a man of a more implacable disposition, 
nothing afterwards could conciliate him. He now appeared 
ia a character the reverse of what he had assumed to be. 
Many times, we would all, I am sure, have freely forgotten and 


FIFTY YEARS AGO. 1839 TO 1 844. 275 

ibrgiven any unpleasantness of which he was the cause, 
perhaps involuntarily, for captains of ships at sea have often 
much to put up with, but all was of no use. Any advances 
we might make to that end, he never responded to in the 
slightest degree, but seemed to take a delight in doing things 
which could have no other object than to irritate and annoy. 
And as I had, during one of our disputes, threatened to report 
his conduct to the British Consul at the first port we should 
call at, I had to receive the greatest share of his ill-humour. 
I was sorry for the sailors, for it was *' hard lines " for them, 
these new regulations. As for us passengers, the captain's 
<:onduct only furnished us with something new to talk about, 
and gave rise to many rough jokes, and comical remarks. 
Yet although the captain was of so perverse a disposition, he 
had his redeeming qualities, which it would be unfair not to 
mention ; he was an excellent seaman, and, as far as the safety 
-of the vessel was concerned, we all had every confidence in 
him, and as for the insufficient supply of provisions and water, 
the shipping agents were the greatest offenders. 

Although the captain had shortened our allowance of 
provisions, he did, on or about this time, give us an extra day, 
we having passed the iSoth degree of Longitude. This he 
was obliged to do, always sailing eastward as we were, in order 
to bring our time-reckoning right ; and we had two Sundays, 
one following the other. 

At the time we encountered the first gale off the Auckland 
Islands, we were in that stormy ocean, which here, unchecked 
by. island or continent, sweeps the circuit of this extremity of 
the globe. The weather became very cold, with frequent showers 
of hail, sleet, or snow. The water froze in the casks, and the 
ship's deck, masts and rigging, would be for days iced over 
with frozen snow, seldom was it otherwise. The sky was 
generally cloudy, great black clouds rising in the southward or 
south-west, would sweep over us, bringing with them showers 
of driving sleet or hail. Wintry and desolate was the ship and 
the surrounding sea. Day after day we were scudding along 


under a close-reefed fore top-sail, or should the gale be violent^ 
drifting stern first, steadied by a storm-sail. Nothing I had 
ever seen of the sea, could bear comparison with the vast 
rolling waves of this ocean. I remember ** Mac " calling to us- 
passengers, then down below, to come and look at the big' 
waves of this stormy ocean, which he said surpassed anything 
in his experience, and indeed he might well say so ; for when 
our ship was on the top of a wave, great rolling foam-crested 
waves could be seen as far as the eye could see, and only then ; 
for when in the trough of these seas, we seemed almost en- 
gulfed between walls of water, from which, to all appearance 
it seemed impossible ever to emerge ; and yet our ship did ride 
out these seas wonderfully well. Nowhere else in the ocean 
over which I have voyaged, either before or since, have I 
ever noticed mountainous waves to compare with these. 

The days were now very short, scarcely eight hours long^ 
The sun would break out sometimes from behind a cloud, but 
his rays were so weak they brought no warmth with them. 
For several weeks did we experience this kind of weather, and 
we sometimes dispaired of the voyage ever coming to but one 
end, and that was to be engulfed and lost. To walk the deck 
was impossible, it being generally covered with frozen snow, 
and our only way of beguiling away the time was to sit below^ 
where all was darkness and misery, except the small faint 
light from the two dead-lights over the passengers' berths. 

Of books, we had only one, and that was : " Two years- 
before the mast," being a sailor's life at sea, by R. H. Dana^. 
and in this book we could read a graphic description of the 
perils to be met with, rounding Cape Horn, and from it, form 
some idea of what we ourselves might expect. Fortunately 
we met with no icebergs, which is no uncommon occurrence in 
these latitudes, but they are more frequent in the summer 
months. Except the howling of the wind through the rigging, 
there is a pecuhar silence about the sea, and no living thing to- 
be seen in these latitudes, except the albatross. Two or three 
of these birds were ever on the wing, never seeming to rest,. 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. 1 839 TO 1 844. 277 

and their only resting place, when they do rest, must be on the 
waves of this cold, stormy ocean. 

The only comfort (if comfort it might be called) we en- 
joyed, was at night, when we and the sailors, whose watch 
was below, would companion together. Then our one oil lamp 
would be lighted, which we fancied diffused a little more 
warmth and comfort through our gloomy habitation, and then 
we would talk over the affairs of the day, and indulge in specu- 
lations about the future. 

The sea- water had for some time leaked through the 
decks in many places over the passengers' berths, and so much 
so over mine, that I shifted my quarters into a spare berth 
that happened to be in the fore-castle. That one, fortunately, 
was dry overhead, but the fore-castle was a miserable den, and 
the fore-castle hatch was always kept closed, to keep out the 
cold and the seas which would occasionally break over the 
forepart of the vessel. The foul air caused by such confine- 
ment, and the damp from the seamen's wet clothes, which 
liung dripping in every direction, and the smell of tar and 
other marine stores, and bilge-water, made the place the most 
comfortless that could be imagined. Such was our domicile 
in this stormy and miserable part of the world. 

We passengers had too much sleep, for sleep was our 
only pastime, day or night, so when night came, and I was in 
my berth, sleep deserted me, and I would lie awake (whilst 
the wearied-out watch below would be in a deep sleep) looking 
at the lamp swinging to and fro with the motion of the vessel, 
in the thick, close atmosphere of the fore-castle, my com- 
panionship being my own thoughts, and they being not of the 

Here we were, a small community, tossed about in this 
-dark, dreary waste of waters, probably many hundreds of 
miles from any human beings similarly situated. In the day- 
time we could spin old yarns, talk about adventures in the 
bush, about gum trees, and acacia blossoms, all yarns which 


often gave rise to jokes and comicalities, and made us laugh ; 
but during the night we encountered a solitude which none of 
us ever realized in the back-woods, but a solitude not always 
without a break, for every four hours there would be the 
slamming of the fore-castle hatch, and the calling of the watch,, 
or, " all hands ahoy, tumble up men, quick," and then the 
tramp of the sailors on deck in obedience to a sudden call,, 
sometimes accompanied by the violent flapping of sails, and the 
rattling of blocks and ropes, and the ** ho-hoy" of the sailors^ 
as they hauled on the ropes, then all would be again still, 
save the wild whistling and moaning of the wind through the 
dismantled rigging, or the heavy splash of seas falling on the 
deck, and the continual creaking of the masts and yards, and 
the hull of the vessel, from the severe strain on her, as she 
heaved and rolled in the sea 

I have already given descriptive particulars of the men 
forming the crew of the vessel, one of whom was Mac Manus. 
I forget his christian name, but we always called him " Mac," 
and a particular favourite he was of mine, and indeed with all 
on board ; no matter how disagreeable and rough the weather 
might be, or harassing the sailor's duties, " Mac" was always 
cheerful, always with a smile on his handsome good-humoured 
countenance. In the most desponding times we were always^ 
cheered when ** Mac " was present, for he would come down from 
his dreary watch on deck, first dancing a few steps of a sailor's 
hornpipe, then he would have a few words with " Cocky " (the 
cockatoo), who was always a favourite with the men, and then 
settle down to his meal. 1 have beguiled away many cheer- 
less nights listening to " Mac's" droll yarns, which he would tell 
with that zest and happy humour in which Irishmen so excel 
us. Mac, like many of his countrymen, was a Roman Catholic,, 
but never intruded his religious views on us. Although very 
young, perhaps five and twenty, he was full grown, and as 
fine a man as I ever saw, and the most able seaman on board, . 

This notice of ** Mac " brings me to our second officer,, 
second in command to the captain, and he had his quarters in 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. 1 839 TO 1 844. 279 

the cabin. He, of course, was " the mate," for we had only- 
one " mate." But although shipped in Sydney as " mate," in 
some respects he was scarcely qualified for the duties he had 
undertaken, and the consequence was, he and the captain had 
frequently come to " hard words," which, as will be seen 
further on, ended in his dismissal from his office as " mate." 

We were about 700 miles south-west of Cape Horn, when 
after a continuous succession of stormy weather, the wind 
moderated, continuing so for four or five days, up to the 14th 
August, which, being the day of the new moon, we were hoping 
it might bring about a more favourable change in the weather. 
On the morning of that day, the wind blew very strong, but 
still fair, and we were running before it under double-reefed 
top-sails. But about the time of sun-set, the wind increased 
to such a degree, that the captain thought it advisable to 
heave the ship to. The ** mate," who by some means or other, 
had become partly intoxicated, expressed his disapproval of 
this proceeding on the part of the captain, using stronger 
language than became a second officer to his superior. After 
some altercation, the dispute between him and the captain rose 
very high, and ended by the captain calling all hands " aft," 
and putting the question to them : whether he had done right 
in heaving the ship to, when all gave it as their opinion, that 
he had done perfectly right under the present circumstances, 
and no more than what the master of a vessel should dq, who 
had any regard for the safety of the ship, or those placed in 
his charge. 

Finding that '* all hands " approved of what he had done, 
the captain ordered the mate to his cabin, with orders that he 
should take his place in the forecastle the following day, at the 
same time appointing " Mac" to be '*mate" in his stead, and 
enjoining all the sailors to obey his orders the same as they 
had done the previous one. 

On the return of ** Mac" to the fore-castle, we all con- 
gratulated him on his sudden promotion, but begged of him 


that he would not leave the fore-castle, but remain with us, 
which he promised he would do. ** Mac " did not seem at all 
elated by his promotion, but if anything, took it rather 

Soon after dusk, and the nights were dark then, there 
being no moonlight, " Mac " and his wktch went on deck, the 
other watch being down below, wet and cold, getting their 
suppers, and we all commenting on the possible effects of the 
fearful gale raging around us, the worst that we had yet 
experienced. The sailors almost slept over their supper, so 
wearied were they, not so much with work as exposure on deck, 
and it being about seven o'clock, I was just beginning to 
undress, to turn into my berth, seeing that there was no com- 
fort to be had anywhere else. At this time the ship was mak- 
ing heavy lurches to leeward, and groaning and straining 
beneath the blast, when a tremendous sea struck her on the 
lar-board side, heaving her over on her beam ends, the water 
at the same time rushing in torrents through the hatch-way, 
putting out the light and leaving us in darkness, at the same 
time pitching the boxes and bedding, and everyone in the fore- 
castle on to the lee side, the water casks and cargo in the fore- 
hold going the same way, when after staggering a little under 
the shock, she steadily righted herself again. Never having 
been in such a predicament before, I could not imagine what 
had happened to us, but my first thoughts were that we had 
struck on an iceberg, no uncommon occurrence in these lati- 
tudes. The short time that the ship lay struggling under the 
sea, and the noise of the crashing wreck, and rush of waves on 
deck, was a state of horrid suspense to all of us, which was 
relieved but little when she righted, for, we were all well 
aware that she must be very full of water ; and to live in such 
a gale seemed to us in our present condition an impossibility. 

Having hastily put on what things I could find, I went 
with the rest on deck, and witnessed a sight enough to paralize 
the last remaining spark of hope left in us. All the ship's 
bulwarks were gone, except a small fragment at the bows, the 

Hg-M II I Ui — ^W— Wl^^^^^— — ^— B^^^MB^^BB— ^— ^Blil— B ^ I K * - ■ J.JU. ^—Pa— WB81^I—HW^— —i^^l— ^^W— P 

FIFTY YEARS AGO 1839 TO 1 844. 281 

sea having made a clean sweep of everything on deck, carrying 
away the wood-work of the cook's galley, the two boats, 
binnacle, and companion hatchways of the after-cabin. The 
** mate " and two or three more were holding on by the rattlins, 
near the fore hatch, and I soon placed myself alongside of them, 
the ** mate " having warned me to keep clear of the fore-mast, 
as he expected it would give way, the main top-mast and main 
top-sail yards having already gone, the mizen mast had gone 
also, and the try sail-boom had fallen on to the steering wheel, 
breaking it to pieces and rendering it altogether useless. 

No mind, unaccustomed to such scenes, can form any con- 
ception of the confusion on deck at this time, covered as it was 
with wreckage of all kinds, with the addition of the howl of 
the tempest, which alone was enough to appal the stoutest 
heart. The night was fearfully dark, whilst mountains of seas, 
rendered visible by the white foam, loomed out in the darkness, 
threatening every moment to engulf us. It seemed as if all 
the storms we had met with were concentrated into one, for the 
purpose of burying our poor old ship in the waves. 

After a short time, I managed to crawl over the wreck, 
and reach the after-cabin, where I found two of the steerage 
passengers, Leese and William, the other two never turned up. 
One of them, O'Neill, could not be expected to do so. He 
was too old and infirm, and was best where he was, in his 
berth. Had he attempted to come on deck, he would to a 
certainty have been lost overboard. The other was Carrew, 
the immigrant. Why he stayed in the fore-castle he best 
knows himself. 

The captain, and Captain Warner, were busily engaged 
in devising means to remedy the disaster, and the captain 
ordered us passengers to take our turn at the pumps along 
with the sailors, if we set any value upon our lives ; and which 
we did, turn and turn about. 

As the ship was without either rudder or sail, it was 


necessary to do something to keep her head to the wind, and 


by some means or other, how it was done, and by whom, I 
don't know, but a heavy spar with a rope attached was got 
overboard, and the rope made fast, then we were compara- 
tively safe. I know the captain expressed his satisfaction 
when this was done. Afterwards there was nothing we could 
do but work hard at the pumps, which we did the whole 
night. That night is one which will never be erased from my 
memory, the troubles and privations I had ever undergone, 
seemed as nothing in comparison to the accumulated miseries 
of that one night. The wind was so strong that it was almost 
impossible to face it, and accompanied by showers of hail and 
sleet. Had we not been lashed to the pumps, we should many 
times have been washed overboard by the heavy seas, which 
continually overwhelmed us. It requires no great stretch of 
imagination to form an idea of the miseries we had to undergo, 
during this terrible long night of about sixteen hours, exposed, 
half naked as we were, to the piercing cold and the fury of 
the elements, and momentarily expecting to founder. To the 
continued working of the pumps, and the solid strength of 
the ship, which stood so well the strain of the storm, our 
safety was in a great measure due. But happily for us, early 
in the morning the storm sensibly abated, and by daylight it 
was nearly calm, and our unceasing work at the pumps had 
cleared the ship of water. 

When morning came, we were enabled to see the extent 
of the damage that had been done, but one loss we suffered 
that fatal night which could not be repaired — poor ** Mac " 
was gone — he having been swept away by the first sea which 
threw the ship over on her beam-ends. It was far on in the 
night, when all hands were, in turns, at the pumps, when the 
thought struck me that I had never seen " Mac " amongst the 
workers, and it was then I learned that he had never been seen 
since the first heavy sea. The last time he had been seen, he 
was standing by the binnacle, when the sea struck the vessel, 
and he was never seen again. 

FIFTY YEARS AGO 1 839 TO 1 844. 283. 

No one could regret poor " Mac's " untimely end more 
than I did, although he was regretted by all. But the last 
twenty-four hours had been the most strange and eventful of 
my life, and it all seemed more like a hideous dream. Not- 
withstanding the wind had settled to a calm, such a calm as we 
had not experienced since leaving Sydney, our vessel rolled 
exceedingly in the heavy swell which always prevails so much 
in these latitudes, particularly after a storm. Her external 
appearance was most ruinous by daylight, and told in too- 
plain terms of the terrible conflict she had so recently undergone^ 
in the tangled wreck and shattered remains on deck, and the 
broken spars, which, being still held by the ropes, floated by 
her side. 

After going into the cabin and taking some refreshment of 
biscuit and water, which was the only thing we could obtain, 
we had still a great deal of work before us, and immediately 
after, the sailors proceeded to cut away the broken rigging 
which encumbered the ship. The mizen mast was gone, bnt 
the lower part of the fore-mast was still there, and a fore-sail 
was fixed on that, and the steering wheel was temporarily 
repaired. Afterwards bulwarks of ropes had to be extem- 
porized, and many other things attended to, totally unknown 
to those who have never been similarly situated. All these 
matters occupied several days. 

The captain had now decided to put into Concepcion Bay, 
on the coast of Chili, and the wind, although light, proved very 
favourable, and enabled us to make considerable progress. 
We passengers and the sailors were divided into two watches, 
and took our turn regularly at the pumps, which was our chief 
employment, as the vessel still made a deal of water, but not 
dangerously so. But that arrangement did not last long* 
None of us had been able to take any rest till the second night 
after the gale, when 1 stripped ofl" my clothes and turned into 
bed for the first time. But my own bed being drenched with 
water, I determined on occupying the empty berth of poor 


*" Mac," although much against my wish, as the sight of it 
filled my mind with too many sorrowful memories of its last 
unfortunate occupant. 

Owing to the cold and wet, my feet had never been warm 
since the beginning of the gale, so when I got to bed and began 
to enjoy some degree of warmth and sleep, I was awakened by 
the violent pains I felt in them, and could not comprehend 
what could be the cause, when morning discovered to me that 
they were severely frostbitten ; swelling and inflammation 
accompanied by large black blisters, having already taken place. 
I had also lost all feeling in my finger ends, and my left fore- 
finger was badly crushed, and the nail torn off during the night 
of the gale, but I had felt no pain in it up to this time, owing 
to its being numbed with cold, but now the pain began to be 
very bad. I was all over sores and bruises, and the swelling 
and inflammation of my hands and feet still increased, and the 
salt water which continually wetted them, made the pain 
uncommonly severe, for my feet were so swollen I could not 
wear shoes. The seamen were comparatively, but slightly 
affected by the cold, but the cook and the cabin boy, and the 
other two passengers who had been at work on deck, where in 
the same condition as myself, if not worse. 

At this time we were running before a steady southerly 
wind, which began on the morning after the gale, and continued 
for about a fortnight, and the ship made less water. For some 
two or three days I had been crawling about the deck, useless 
for anything, except to take my turn at the pumps ; I could 
not bear anyone to come near me, for fear they might touch 
or hurt in any way, my many sores. 

My fellow passengers were similarly afflicted, and seeing 
how little use we were, and our inability to work, we laid our- 
selves up in our berths, and declined to work any longer. On 
the captain being informed of what we had done, he was in a 
rage about it, and made use of every means in his power to 
induce us to resume work, at one time using threats, at other 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. 1 839 TO 1 844. 285 

times persuasion, but all were of no use, and as a last resource 
he stopped our provisions, which, although still only biscuit 
and water, was a thing we could not do without, but eventually,, 
seeing the inutility of his measures, he gave them to us. 

The captain was quite well himself, and his whole conduct 
proved he had but little feeling for a sick person, yet there was- 
some excuse for his apparently harsh treatment, considering 
the serious responsibility that devolved upon him, and the 
great scarcity of hands to work the vessel, at a time when our 
hazardous position needed them so much. But it was impos- 
sible for anyone suffering as we were, to walk on the ever-rolling 
deck of a ship ; our inability to obtain any rest, owing to the 
pain from our sores, and the poor and bad provisions we had, 
weakened us to that degree, that like our unfortunate ship, we 
were but the wreck of what we had been, and had she been 
going down, I could not have been of any service. Sickness, 
at any time is a miserable companion, but a person must be 
sick at sea, to experience the full aggravation of its. miseries,, 
where there is no friendly help to bestow sympathy, or to render 
that assistance so much required. The work certainly fell very 
heavy on the sailors, who, although not afflicted as we were, 
yet were literally worn out with the harassing duties they had to 
perform, and the want of that rest they so much needed. 

Our passage from the scene of the accident to ** La Con- 
cepcion," occupied us twenty-five days, a period of strange 
incidents. Near a fortnight had elapsed and yet we had no 
meat of any kind, owing to the want of the cooking galley. 
The wooden part of the galley had been carried away by the 
gale, and the iron work lay broken, near to where it had stood, 
being chained to the deck. Up to this time, we had nothing 
with our dry biscuit but tallow, taken from a broken cask of it. 
But this tallow was tolerably good eating, being sweet, not 
like the stinking stuff so often met with in England. But at 
the urgent request of the sailors, we determined on trying to 
cook some meat, by fixing up the old cooking appartus, an 
operation which occupied us the greater part of a day, although 


two able men might have done it in less than half-an-hour ; 
and we also were very wishful to get some warm tea or coflfes 
for the sailors, as well as for ourselves. 

After we had got the cooking appartus proparly fixed, we 
took it in turns to sit by it to hold on ths pots, which would 
otherwise have been upset by the rolling of the vessel, and 
owing to the risk there was of a sea putting out the fire, we 
-continued cooking night and day, so long as the weather per- 
mitted. Yet this trifling occupation was most irksoma and 
painful. It is difficult to conceive how painful it was to us to 
rise out of bed to do anything. To move about in our state, 
even in the quiet room of a house, would have been painful 
enough, but it would be trifling compared with the pain suffered 
in doing so on board ship, where it is often difficult for a 
healthy person to stand secure on his legs, and to an onlooker 
it was pitiful to see how helpless the man was who should 
loose his hold, and be thrown down by the rolling of the vessel. 
No help could be given to him, as wall might the blind attempt 
to lead the blind. 

About this time, to increase our disasters, the carpenter 
was laid up, and could not leave his berth, owing to the scurvy ; 
and a day or two after, another of the seamen was laid up with 
the same complaint, leaving only two man to do the heavy duty 
that was required. While we were in this state we had arrived 
on the coast of Chili, and the weather had become niuch 
warmer, but we encountered another gale of wind from the 
north-west, during which a heavy sea struck us, knocking 
<lown our best and ablest seaman on to the deck, hurting him 
iio seriously that he was laid up, leaving only one man, who 
%vas also very bad with the scurvy, and fitter for a hospital, than 
10 assist the captain and mate in doing duty, but, fortunately for 
IIS, the gale was not a severe one, and continued but a short 

As near as I can remember, it was the day after that 
storm we heard the captain give notice of a ship in sight, which 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. 1 839 TO 1 844. 287 

news brought everyone on deck who was able to leave the 
fore-castle, to see this welcome sight, the first living, moving 
thing (except occasionally an albatross) we had seen for many 
weeks. Signals were hoisted, and very soon they were 
answered by the stranger hoisting the ** Stars and Stripes,'* at 
the same time she tacked about and bore down towards us. 
She proved to be an American whaler ; and the captain of her, 
a genuine Yankee in speech and manners, at our captain's 
request, came on board, bringing with him a supply of pro- 
visions, which we very much needed, as our remaining biscuit 
was nearly all damaged by salt water. He was a rough, kind- 
hearted man, this captain, and I shall ever remember, with a 
feeling of gratitude, the cheery sight of his noble vessel as she 
bore down to our assistance, like some friendly spirit of the 
deep. Being himself bound for Concepcion Bay, he very 
generously left us two " Kanakas " (Sandwich Islanders) to 
assist us in getting into port, which we reached the second day 
after, being Sunday, September 8th, casting anchor opposite 
the town of Talcahuano, the principal town in the harbour, 
eighty-three days after leaving Sydney. 

And now, " gentle reader," that is the customary phrase, 
mark the difference between then, and now. In ninety days a 
traveller can now journey round the world, say in 1890, and 
with a comfort and convenience never dreamt of then. 





Goncepcion Bay and Talcahuano described— About the Chilians we came 
in contact with — Repairs completed— Sail for England, Arriving there 
February 26th, 1845— The voyage having occupied for its completion, 8 

months and 8 days. 

J A FTER our two delapidated sails were furled, and things 

*^ put a little to rights, the captain came down into the fore- 

^ ~ castle, and having called all hands, he, in a short speech, 

told us what were his reasons for doing so : that he considered 

it our duty to return thanks to Almighty God for our safe 

deliverance from the many perils we had encountered. He 

then gave' us a description of some of the most trying scenes 

in which it had been his lot to take part, and I am sorry I 

cannot remember them, but they are not entered in my old 

diary, but in his opinion, none of them had been so perilous as 

the one from which we had been so recently delivered, and to 

quote his own words : " Had it not been for the merciful 

intervention of Providence, we should very probably have long 

since met with a grave in the remorseless ocean. As it was, 

we had experienced the most favourable weather since the 

accident, that could be desired." ** Although," said he, ** we 

may be of different religious opinions, still, he supposed, we all 

believed in a Supreme Power, and he thought it was our duty 

to express our gratitude to that Power, for having so mercifully 

granted us a safe deliverance, and permitted us once more to 

enjoy that security in harbour, which we had so anxiously, and, 

at times, so despairingly hoped for." 


He then made mention of the many unpleasantnessess 
which had at various times taken place between himself and 
the ship's company, and expressed a hope that for the future 
all would go on smoothly, and the past be forgotten. Much 
more he said to the great surprise of all, for none of us had 
any idea that our old captain could make so lengthy and so 
appropriate a speech. Then he concluded by reading the 
prayer, in the Church of England service, appointed for such 
occasions, which, I believe, was sincerely joined in by all 
present, after which he withdrew to his own cabin. 

On going on deck, the evening was too far advanced to 
admit our seeing much of the surrounding country, so we had 
to defer our curiosity until morning. Whilst at sea, every face 
was gloomy and careworn, the effect of hard work and hard- 
ship, and the suffering and starvation, and anxiety of mind 
attendant upon our then situation, but the cause of all this 
had now disappeared, and never, during the voyage, had the 
little dark forecastle looked so cheerful as it did this night. 
The lamp was lighted, and the faces, which, under the 
accumulation of miseries with which we had had to contend^ 
had for many days never been seen to smile, were now lighted 
up with cheerfulness. We had now no anxiety whatever^ 
either as to the wind or weather. The brig was safely moored^ 
and lay like a log in the still waters of the bay. Now could 
the poor worn-out sailors enjoy what they had not done for 
many a day, a whole night's rest in bed, no more to be roused 
by the banging of the ** scuttle " of the forecastle, and the 
very dismal cry on a stormy night of ** Starbowling ahoy, all 
hands ; all hands take in sail ! " Yet it was very late before we 
all ** turned in," so much had we to talk about, respecting past 
events, and what was to be done with the old vessel. But in 
all our enjoyment we were frequently reminded of the absence 
of poor *' Mac," who was much regretted by all. 

I was a long time before I could get to sleep, my mind was 
so much occupied with the strange events of the past, and the 
future, and the thought of seeing on the morrow a country so 



interesting as Chili, and so different from any I had yet seen, 
and when I dropped off to sleep, my head was full of the 
romantic history of this part of America, of Incas, Cortez and 
Pizarro, worshippers of the sun, and the cordill^ras of the 
Andes, which I hoped to see before we left, but which I never 
did see. 

The morning after our arrival was fine and clear, and the 
sun shone with a brilliancy unknown to colder climates, the 
weather being of that equable character, which so generally 
prevails in the warmer regions of the temperate zone ; that, 
with the bold mountainous shores of the Bay, and the scream- 
ing sea-birds, ever in motion around us, were to us who had 
been so long in the latitudes of cold and storm, a lovely sight. 

The Bay, or Port of ** La Concepcion " is a deep inlet, in 
latitude 36 south, or thereabouts, and has a climate very 
similar to that of Sydney, and most enjoyable we found it ; it 
was a heaven to us after our experience off Cape Horn. There 
is an island of considerable size at the mouth of the Bay, 
forming two entrances into it, which is bordered by moim- 
tainous hills and ravines, as at Port Jackson. Some parts are 
thickly covered with forest trees and bush-wood, other parts 
are like the open forest of Australia, trees and grass, and there 
is much fruitful soil on the level. There appeared to be very 
few habitations, except near the town, and the quantity 
of land under cultivation was very small, compared to the 
great extent still in a state of nature ; and unlike many parts of 
Australia, it does not appear to be subject to periodical 
droughts, but as a counterbalance to this, earthquakes are 
very common, particularly during the summer months, a shock 
of an earthquake having been felt the second night after we 
cast anchor, so the natives said ,K:al though we did not feel its 

Concepcion Bay is one of the largest and most commodious 
harbours on the west coast of America ; is well sheltered, except 
during northerly gales, which sometimes sweep over it. 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. — 1 839 TO 1 844. 29 1 

Early in the morning several boats from the town visited 
us, bringing with them vegetables and milk for sale, which 
readily found purchasers, and gave us an opportunity of seeing 
the sort of people we were going to associate with, probably 
for some length of time. 

Nothing was done this day with the exception of washing 
the deck, and clearing away lumber, preparatory to the British 
Consul coming on board, which he did about middle day, 
accompanied by several Chilian Spaniards. One of them, a 
tall, dignified, elderly gentleman, seemed to take considerable 
interest in our dilapidated and miserable condition, for we were 
all wrecks, ship and all. By means of an interpreter, for none 
of us understood the Spanish language, he asked us many 
questions, and promised to send something to comfort us, 
which he did the same afternoon ; wine, loaves of bread, dried 
figs, and what else I don't remember. His charity was of that 
kind which does not recognize the artificial boundaries of 
nationality or creed. 

He was either the Alcalde of Talcahuano, or the Captain 
of the Port, I forget which ; at the time I remembered his name, 
but that I have long since forgotten. It was Don "some- 
thing," but as I shall have to refer to him again, I will call him 
Don Pedro, after an old Spanish friend of mime. 

The same day a survey was held over the ship, by com- 
petent persons appointed by the Consul, who, after a delibera- 
tion lasting .three days, decided that she should be repaired, 
and proceed on her voyage, otherwise she would have been 
condemned and sold, and we passengers would have been sent 
on by some other homeward-bound ship. 

In the meantime, the Consul also sent us a supply of fresh 
provisions, and continued to do so whilst we stayed in the 
harbour. A doctor was also appointed to attend those who 
were sick. So we might now be said to be " living in clover." 


After the decision of the surveyors, the repairs were com- 
menced with at once, the broken masts and every part of the 
rigging being taken down, and carried on shore for that pur- 
pose, whilst a number of carpenters were employed on the 
vessel to do the repairs required there, which were not com- 
pleted before the expiration of nearly eight weeks. 

We were anchored about a quarter of a mile from the 
town, where I and my fellow passengers passed the greater 
part of our time, having nothing else to do, and the ship being 
under repair was no place for idlers, but we always made it a 
rule, unless it was unavoidable, to pass the night on board. 

Our two lady passengers lived on shore the whole time, 
the consul having kindly offered them accommodation in his 
own house, which they accepted, and whilst referring to them, 
it would be unpardonable in me, if I failed to mention the 
courage and presence of mind shown by one of them, the single 
lady, during the night of the gale, at which time she exhibited 
a coolness and willingness to assist, worthy of Grace Darling 
herself. The widow lady could not have assisted if she had 
wished, having her two young children to care for. 

After this preliminary, I will say a few words about 
Talcahuano, and the people of Chili. 

By the courtesy of Messrs. Harper & Brothers, of New 
York, the proprietors of Harper's Magazine, I am able to give 
the illustration of Talcahuano which accompanies this chapter, 
and which first appeared in Harper's Magazine — October, 1890. 
It has the merit of being not only an attractive picture,, 
but a most truthful one. There is only one particular in which 
it differs from the Talcahuano of our time ; the town is some- 
what larger than it was in 1844. ^^ other respects, it is a 
most truthful illustration ; and lying close in to the shore, in 
exactly the same position we lay, is a two-masted brig, so 
that the picture might have been the work of a Chilian artist^ 
practising his art in 1844. 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. 1 839 TO 1 844. 293 

The town of Talcahuano is but a small one, with streets 
at right angles to each other, and a moderate width. It has 
also a Plaza, or public square, in which is the church, catholic 
of course, for there is, or was, only one religion in all the old 
Spanish American colonies. Sailors say that all foreigners 
who intend to settle in these old Spanish colonies, turn catholics 
when they arrive, leaving their old heresies behind them at 
Cape Horn. There is no pier, or other landing place except 
the open beach ; there goods and passengers are landed, 
which, during a northerly gale is no easy matter. Architectural 
beauty there is none, the houses being very much alike, having 
only a ground floor, on account of the earthquakes. Few 
windows face the street, and those which do so, are closed in 
with iron bars. The better class of houses differ little in 
appearance externally from the common sort, but they are 
larger, occupying more ground, and are handsomely furnished 
within. They are altogether, very much as we see them to-day 
in some parts of Spain. 

We were told that this was comparatively a new town. 
That many years ago, during an earthquake, an immense tidal 
wave rushed into the Bay, over the island at the entrance, 
and overwhelmed the old town, which now lies under the sea, 
about where our ship lay at anchor ; and that the wave ex- 
tended beyond the present town to the summit of a rising 
ground behind it, on which stands a wooden cross, to mark the 
extent of the inundation. 

Talcahuano was the only Chilian town I ever had an 
opportunity of seeing. Sometimes I got a mile or so beyond 
it, in the surrounding country, and that was all. I was so 
helpless and lame from the frost-bites, that for about a month 
I could not walk, except with the help of two sticks, afterwards 
I could manage with one. I very much wished to see more of 
the country, and had planned a walking excursion to Val- 
paraiso, if I should ever be able, and my fellow passenger 
Carrew, would have accompanied me. And my roving dis- 


position being strong in me, I planned another excursion to 
Juan Fernandez, Robinson Crusoe's Island. 

All these schemes came to nothing, and it was lucky for 
me they did ; and from various causes, two of which, without 
mentioning the remainder, were quite sufficient to account for 
their failure — my ignorance of the language, and my inability 
to walk. 

Being thus confined to a very limited district, I like the 
rest of my fellow passengers made the best of it, contenting 
ourselves enjoying the sunshine and the change, and finding 
amusement in studying the manners and customs of the 
Chilians, who, no doubt amused themselves by studying ours. 


The people of Talcahuano were, like all the inhabitants of 
Chili, of two races, the aborigines and the descendants of their 
Spanish conquerors, and of all shades of colour, from a pure 
European white to a dark shade of brown, according as the 
Indian blood predominated, and then there is an intermixture 
of foreigners, English and American chiefly, as is the case in 
all the seaport towns on this coast. Those of Spanish extrac- 
tion are the '* upper ten " of Chili, and pride themselves on 
their Spanish descent. 

When at the Cape of Good Hope, some of my early 
notions about the Dutch had to be cast on one side, and here 
again I had to go through the same process with respect to the 
Chilians. My early training had taught me, as an indisputable 
article of belief that Spanish pride, Spanish ignorance, and 
bigotry, were the most prominent peculiarities of the Spanish 
character. I found here, ignorance of the densest, but as to 
pride and bigotry, I never saw less of it than I did in 
Chili. We often came into contact with the gentry of 
Talcahuano, both male and ferhale, and we always found them 
most courteous, and aifable, and conspicuous amongst them 
was Don Pedro. He had a wife, and grown up daughters and 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. — 1 839 TO 1 844. 295 

one son, the younger ones being decidedly like their father, 
handsome, graceful in form and feature, and all had pleasant 
manners. Several times I went by invitation to the house of 
Don Pedro, but then had an interpreter with me, named 
Frank the Swede. Frank was a young sailor working on 
board our brig, a Swede by birth, a very intelligent fellow, 
who could speak English well, and, as far as I could judge, 
Spanish also. 

As to the bigotry of these people, they may be super- 
stitious, according to our views, but they are not bigoted. In 
the interior they may be so, and probably they are. I have 
been told by old sailors who have travelled in the interior, 
that there they are bigoted and fanatical, and will express their 
astonishment on being told, in answer to their questions, that 
there are Christians in England, and that they are, like good 
Catholics, regularly baptized ; but in the coast towns, foreign 
influence has, to a considerable extent, modified their manners 
and customs, and modes of thought. But before we condemn 
these people for bigotry, we had better first look at home, 
where I think there will be found ignorance as dense, and a 
spirit of bigotry, and oftentimes intolerance, amongst the 
different sects, equal to that in any country, calling itself 
Christian. Look at Ireland, for example. I am supposed to 
be writing in 1844'. Those who fancy themselves justified in 
applying these remarks to the present time, are welcome to 
do so. The poorer class appear to be very ignorant, and no 
efforts seem to be made to educate them, a book being very 
rarely seen in their houses. 

The upper class dress as they do in Spain, the ladies wear- 
ing a mantilla, when out of doors, or else a shawl covering the 
head ; but the usual dress of the men, except the very highest 
class, is a broad brimmed hat, and poucho ; trousers, made of 
some light material, and fastened round the waist with a red 
sash. Whilst on the subject of dress, I cannot help saying 
something about the ** poucho," an article of dress almost 
unknown in Europe. In some parts of this Western coast, it 


is called a ** Surreppa." The ** poucho " is one of the simplest 
of garments, and yet for elegance and convenience, nothing in 
the shape of an over-garment can equal it, and it suits admir- 
ably the slim figures of the men who wear it. It is simply a 
square, or nearly a square of any material, woollen, or some- 
thing lighter, according to the individual fancy, or the season 
of the year. In the centre is cut a slit, through which the 
wearer passes his head, and then it hangs loose, leaving the 
arms free, and protecting the upper part of the body loosely 
and pleasantly, and can be thrown off in a moment, and when 
off can be used for other purposes, either as a bed covering, 
or rolled up and stowed away anywhere. The very commonest 
** poucho " would be simply a square of thin blanket, provided 
the regulation slit. Others would be of a far better quality 
of material, often with an ornamental border fringing the edges, 
and tightened at the throat with a silk cord and tassel. It 
harmonized well with the broad-brimmed sombrero, and added 
to the picturesque appearance of the dress. When I reached 
England, I saw an acquaintance of mine, a doctor, wearing a 
dark-coloured " poucho," of the same shape as those worn in 
Chili, and asked him how he liked it, and he was unlimited in 
his praise of it. He was the only person I saw wearing one, 
but the fashion of the ** poucho " died out almost immediately. 
And why ? The tailors who make the fashions extinguished it 
at once. Such a garment would never do for them. There 
was no ** work " in it. Any fool could make his own ** poucho.*' 
So the people have ever since stuck to the ordinary regulation 
coat, one of the most senseless garments ever invented, and 
one of the ugliest, indeed, it is only half a garment. 

The women and young girls dress as do their betters, for, 
except the very poorest, they all dress well, particularly on 
Sundays and Feast-days ; but out of doors, instead of the 
mantilla, they wear a shawl over the head, and if possible, of 
brilliant colours, but generally in very good taste. And all, 
both men and women of Spanish descent, have graceful forms 

FIFTY YEARS AGO — 1 839 TO 1 844. 297 

and handsoms features. We saw no ugly, or deformed people 
in Talcahuano, and unlike what we see in Spain, no beggars. 

We found the people very affable, and in a sense, hospit- 
able also. In their fine climate the doors of the houses are 
almost always open, and the interiors are very clean, as also 
are their habits, and if we, out of curiosity in passing, looked 
in, they nearly always asked us to enter, which we, as a rule, 
declined, knowing nothing of the language, otherwise, I am 
sure they would have delighted in a gossip. 

I had often heard and read accounts of the propensity of 
the inhabitants in these old Spanish settlements to poignard 
and rob paopla, even in the opsn streets, which may be true as 
regards some of the towns, but here, I have been out at all 
hours and never been molested. I doubt not, that even here, 
there are those who will do it, but I believe the practice is not 
so general as it has been represented. If you let them alone, 
they will do the same with you ; but if you quarrel with them, 
they invariably use the knife, which a Chilian always carries 
about his person. I have been at their dance-houses late in 
the night, where there has been, from twenty to thirty, more or 
less, Chihan men and women, and not one foreigner there but 
myself, and although in the early part of my stay, I could 
speak scarcely a word of Spanish, I never received the slightest 
insult or annoyance from them ; a treatment which I fear a 
foreigner would not at all times experience in many places of 
the kind in England, highly as we estimate our civilization. 

Both sexes are very fond of dancing, it is their principal 
amusement. Their dance-houses, or ** salas de baile " were 
numerous and well attended every night, more especially on 
Sundays and Feast-days. I never saw them practice any dance 
but one. The Europeans there, called this dance the Fan- 
dango, but I doubt if it was the Fandango. It was always 
danced to the music of the guitar, or an instrument that was 
a cross between a harp and a guitar, and only two at a time 
would be engaged in it, and these two always male and female. 


It was a stately dance, no vulgarity about it, no flinging about 
of the legs, as I had always supposed it to be, but the con- 
trary ; much pantomimic action would be done with the arms, 
the performers advancing and receding to and from each other, 
and keeping excellent time to the music with the feet, the 
step being distinctly heard, and no more. Not a word being 
spoken by either, and the concourse of people equally as quiet 
and decorous; merry enough they are, without being boisterous, 
and much of the interest attached to this dance, was due to 
the picturesqueness of their costumes, the loose ponchos of 
the men seeming to keep time with the dance, so different to 
the orthodox dress coat. Heaven knows we have much to 
learn if we could only believe it. But as the author of ** Gum 
Boughs and Wattle Bloom " says : " Modesty is one of our 
national traits y 

I must say, I liked this Chilian dance, and have passed 
away many an hour as a looker on. There was a gracefulness 
and sobriety about it which added to the pleasure it gave ; and 
I am sure it would be a favourite in England, if it was known 
and practised. But dancing is the nightly recreation of these 
people, and not a special performance at rare intervals, as 
with us. It is a nightly recreation in private houses, as well as 
in public ones. 

The Chilians, to use one of our own common expressions^ 
take life easy. They are never sefen, in trade or business, 
hurrying and driving, and mutually cutting each others throats 
in order to gain riches, but give themselves plenty of time for 
amusement. Although the wages of the working class are 
but small, being, I believe, about one shilhng a day of our 
money, yet provisions are so cheap, and their wants so few, that 
the poverty, misery, and wretchedness so prevalent at this 
time in England, were unknown there. 

Altogether they seemed a happy people, not growing rich,, 
yet having in abundance all they wanted. Their religion 
might be called Popery, "the scarlet woman on the seven 

FIFTY YEARS AGO — 1839 TO 1 844. 299 

hills, the mother of all abominations,'* and so on, but whatever 
it might be, there was no asceticism about it, nor misery, or 

As to saints' days, which were always feast-days, old 
sailors, who had lived in the country a length of time, and 
these roving characters were numerous enough, used to say 
that they had 365 in a year. They certainly had several dur- 
ing the time we lay in harbour, and amongst them, one par- 
ticular saint's day, when all work, even on the shipping, was 
suspended. In the evening there were about fifty bonfires in 
the Plaza, and a display of very good fireworks. Previous to 
the fireworks, there was service in the church, and I, and one 
or two more fellow passengers, attended it, for the first time,, 
and remained until the close. Although the church was large,, 
the inside was nothing but bare walls, the roof supported by 
two rows of pillars, and but dimly lighted, and no seats of any 
kind, the pew system being unknown in Chili, the people 
always standing or kneeling,. but the service does not last long. 
The East end, where stood the altar, was in a blaze of light 
from the numerous candles there. Of course, we could not 
understand a word that was said, but I well remember hearing,, 
during a pause in the service, something played on a piano, 
which stood near the altar, and which was the only musical 
instrument, which sounded to me like a very pretty waltz. 

There was one amusement at this Festival, which took 
place towards evening, and which did not meet with my approval,, 
resembling too much the barbarous sports of my own country. 
A cock was buried in the ground, all but his head and neck,, 
and a prize was given to the man who, blind-folded, after being 
turned round two or three times, could direct his course to the 
cock, and kill it by a blow on the head, he having at the same 
time, to walk some twenty or more yards. It was amusing 
certainly, for the man very frequently started off on the journey 
very wide, off the mark. 

The author of '* Two Years before the Mast," the only 
readable book we had on board during the voyage, often 


mentions ** beans," as being the chief food of the inhabitants of 
these old Spanish Settlements. We never could imagine how 
beans could be a palatable food ; but here we became acquainted 
with them, and had them served out to us as rations, and liked 
them very much. These beans are of the kidney-bean species, 
not eaten green and unripe, but are allowed to ripen, and are 
then thrashed out like any other grain. Some are like haricot 
beans, white, but others are speckled, like an ordinary kidney 
bean. But all seem alike when cooked, especially Chilian 
fashion, and are mealy and sweet to the taste, and of a rich 
pleasant flavour. The natives have various ways of cooking 
them, and they form their principal farinaceous food, they 
seldom eating bread, although that is of an excellent quality. 
It is the climate that brings these beans to the perfection they 
attain. Wine and aguardiente are their principle beverages, 
when they take such, which is not often. I never remember 
seeing anyone intoxicated. Such beastly exhibitions of drunken- 
ness, as are seen in the Australian Colonies, are totally 
unknown here ; and yet the wines are very cheap, very good 
wine being to be had for about sixpence a bottle. 

But cheap as provisions were, they were dear to us, owing 
to the small value of English money, the only coin we could 
oifer. English silver was of no value whatever, and English 
sovereigns could not be exchanged into Chilian money except 
at a loss of six shillings in the pound, and the change that we 
received was supposed to represent dollars, pesetas, and reals ; 
but in reality were worn and chipped bits of silver, which 
might once have been coins, but now were in all shapes except 
round, their original shape ; old Spanish coins, some of them 
having apparently been in circulation two or more centuries. 
And when we got our change, we could not, without assist- 
ance, tell the value of one piece from another. We had to be 
guided in this by one or two Americans long settled in the 
town. There was also, and had been for two or three years, a 
young Englishman, practising the craft of a shoemaker, and 
we found him very useful as an interpreter, and also for initiat- 

FIFTY YEARS AGO — 1839 TO 1844. 30I 

ing US into the value of Chilian money. But of course, as time 
passed on we became more wide-awake, and managed to pick 
up a few words of the language. 

I have mentioned that our widow lady passenger and her 
two children were furnished with quarters in the house of the 
Consul, and that brings me to the language again. I have 
often watched these two children playing with others in the 
street, and it was astonishing how rapidly they were learning 
the Spanish language. Long before we left, they were quite 
at home with their Chilian playmates. They seemed to learn^ 
as most children do, without effort, far moie than I could learn 
by the laborious study of a vocabulary. I remember once 
going to a store to buy some cheese, and asking for ^^un pedaza 
de casa^'' asking for a piece of a house, I having used the word 
" casa " a house, instead of" queso " cheese, and much amused 
the folks were, because I insisted upon it that " casa " was 
the thing I wanted. I know more about the Spanish language 
now, having lived in Spain for many months at a time, but 
long after my Chilian experience. Had I known ihen as much 
of the Spanish language as I do now^ my enjoyment whilst in 
Chili would have been very much greater. 

During the time we were gaining our experiences of Chili 
and the Chilians, our ship was lying at anchor in the Bay. 
undergoing the necessary repairs ; we who were passengers 
spending most of our time on shore, going in the morning, and 
returning in the evening, sometimes in a ship's boat, but 
oftener in a hired one. But sometimes I have not been able 
to get a boat> when late in returning to the ship, perhaps a 
boatman was not to be found, or the surf on the beach was too 
rough, then I used to get a bed at the house of an American, 
who kept a pulperia, a shop for the sale of provisions, but the 
ship was our usual nightly lodging place ; for one reason, if 
for nothing else, we could enjoy each other's companionship ; 
talk over what we had seen ; listen to the yarns of the sailors^ 


who had added to their number an American named Harry 
Wilson, Frank the Swede, and a Kanaka, a native of the 
Sandwich Islands. The two first had long been wanderers on 
the Spanish coast of South America, were both intelligent 
observers, and had many interesting yarns to tell of their 
travels. And sometimes we could get something out of the 
•** Kanaka " relating to his own country, for he could speak a 
little English, and from that, and the help given by Frank the 
Swede, who knew a jargon collected from all parts of the 
Pacific, we got on pretty well. But the most we could get 
out of the Kanaka was about the late King of the Sandwich 
Islands, Kamehameh^, who seemed to be a favourite with him. 

We had also other Chilians working on board in the day- 
time, going on shore in the evening. Everything was of course, 
topsy-turvy on board, repairs going on, both on deck and 

I have had nothing to say for a long time about my live 
stock, but they were not forgotten, and I am sure, along with 
us they enjoyed the change, for the parrakeets were brought 
on to a safe place on deck, where they could enjoy the sun- 
shine, and poor ** cocky," the cockatoo, he was at liberty on 
deck to enjoy himself in the same manner. Never could there 
be a more intelligent or affectionate bird than ** cocky,'* or one 
more amusing. He suffered much from the cold when in the 
latitude of Cape Horn, and at that time, every morning he 
would come down from his perch, and by the help of beak and 
claws, would work his way up a rope that was hung there for 
the purpose, into my berth, and there squat on the bed clothes 
for two or three hours, till getting up time, and seemed to enjoy 
it so much, and never without first giving me a kiss, for he had 
been taught that accomplishment. No wonder he enjoyed the 
warmth, for his feet used to feel icy-cold. Now he was at 
liberty, and would crawl up the rigging, and after getting on to 
a safe perch, would set up his crest, flap his wings, and scream ; 
sometimes varying his notes, by crowing like a cock, or cackling 
like a hen does afte laying an egg ; or bark like a dog, or mew 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. — 1 839 TO 1 844. 303 

like a cat ; and when he was tired and getting hungry, he 
would come down, and go up to the men he knew, and say : 
** Pretty cocky, a bit of bread for cocky," repeating this until 
he got his wants suppHed. ** Bill Growl " was the man who 
interested himself most in cocky's welfare. He had plenty to 
eat now, and fruits from the shore, but he often got me into 
trouble owing to a mischievous habit he had of tearing the 
men's clothes which he found lying about, or picking up the 
carpenter's small tools, and dropping them over-board, so that 
when on deck, it was necessary to watch him closely, and 
quickly he knew, when ** shouted to," that he was doing wrong. 
• But with all his mischievousness he was a great favourite with 
the sailors, who enjoyed his comical ways, and he would 
generally sit on one of their knees, when at their meals, looking 
gravely on, and getting a bit now and then. To the Chilians 
he was a great curiosity, who had never before seen a bird like 
him, and there is no doubt, many times would he have been 
stolen by the Chilians from shore, working on the vessel, had 
it not been for the sharp watchfulness of our own sailors. 

** Cocky " had often attracted the notice of Don Pedro 
when he came on board, as he used to do occasionally, to see 
how we were all getting on, and at last, as a special favour, he 
got my consent to remove him to his home on shore, for a short 
time only, in order to amuse his wife and daughters, very much 
to the disgust of Bill, who prophesied all sorts of mishaps that 
would be certain to befall him. But Don Pedro, through his 
interpreter assured me every care should be taken of him. 
How could I refuse the Don, he had shown himself to be a 
noble-man and a good man ; one of Nature's gentlemen in the 
truest sense of the term, so I consented that he should go, and 
there he remained about two weeks, but I seldom missed see- 
ing him every day, and many of the Chilians came to see him, 
and well he was taken care of, and ultimately delivered over 
to me, not because they were tired of him, but, as the son of 
Don Pedro said, who could explain himself fairly well in 


English, ** he was too much care," and they were afraid he 
might be lost, and the sailors were rejoiced to see him return. 

Readers may think I have dwelt too long on the merits 
and misdemeanours of ** Cocky," but he was a great favourite 
of mine, and we were as much attached to each other as ever 
was a man and his dog, for he was as intelligent and affection- 
ate as any dog, and we had shared the same sorrows and 
disasters. He was my faithful and favourite companion at all 

Owing to our not being able to converse with the people 
of Talcahuano, it was in some respects a monotonous life on 
shore. Had I been able to walk, I should most assuredly have 
tnade a long excursion into the country, but I never progressed 
so much as two miles from the town, owing to my lameness, 
for the frost-bitten sores on my feet seemed as if they would 
never heal. We used to sit in the sunshine for two or three 
hours at a stretch, looking at the shipping and surrounding' 
scenery, watching the people going and coming from the ships, 
and listening to the gentle roll of the surf on the beach ; for 
there were several ships in the Bay besides our own, one or 
two Americans, one German, and one English, and occasion- 
ally short visits of a few days by others. 

At other times we would watch the beach during a 
northerly gale, when the gentle murmur of the surf would be 
changed to a thundering roar, and boats had difficulty in 
landing, so much so sometimes, that they would be capsized ; 
and during these northerly gales no boats would put off from 
the shore, compelling us to stay the night in the town. 

Troops of muleteers and bullock carts occasionally, arrived 
from the country, with produce for the shipping, hides gener- 
ally, and, I think, copper ore, and amused me much by the 
peculiar manners of the people, and their strange costumes, 
for the people from the interior were, as a rule, pure Indians, 
the aboriginal natives of the country. These bullock carts 
were of a very primitive construction, and their wheels were a 

FIFTY YEARS AGO — 1 839 TO 1 844. 305 

solid block of wood, which apparently were never greased, for 
if the wind was favourable, we could hear these wheels 
screaching and groaning two or three miles off. 

Sometimes we used to visit an old fort near the town^ 
which was in a ruinous condition, in which were several dis- 
mounted guns, some of them bearing a date of sixteen hundred 
and something ; and they evidently had been in this condition 
very many years. It looked as if the Chilians had enjoyed a long 
uninterrupted peace. Here we would sit in the bright, warm 
sunshine, dreaming away the idle hours, the only sounds, the 
murmur of the surf on the beach, and the cry of the sea-birds> 
and the always pleasant, long'drawn out — Yo — ho, — heave — 
ho, — heave — away — my hearties, of the sailors, which would 
occasionally be heard from the three or four ships lying at 
anchor, for these were all at that time anchored in this great 
harbour. No one merely reading this, can realize the pleasant^ 
cheery sounds of the sailors* voices, as heard in the distance^ 
amidst all the pleasant surroundings. But my favourite walk 
was to a deep ravine, near the town, through which a little 
rippling stream of water wended its way to the sea. And the 
scenery of the little valley was very picturesque, and here 
would be, on all fine days, old and young women, engaged in 
washing operations ; a narrow strip of green sward bordered! 
the stream, on which the women laid their clothes to bleach 
and to dry ; the sides and summit of the ravine being covered 
with a profusion of flowering bushes. Near this was another 
small stream, which fell over the rocks on to the beach, and 
this was what supplied the shipping with fresh water. 

We had thought that the captain had forgotten the un- 
pleasant disputes which had taken place between him and us, 
particularly after he had expressed a wish that they should be,, 
when we first came into harbour, but his conduct since had 
proved the contrary, as he seemed to neglect no opportunity 
to annoy us, which he had it in his power to do, by actions 
remarkable only for their meanness. He had given orders 
that no passenger should go to or from the brig in one of the 



ship's boats, even though it should be going on ship's duty. 
I never could have thought he could have been so spiteful, as 
we had then been some time in harbour, and no complaint had 
been lodged by us with the British Consul, as we had so re- 
peatedly declared we would do ; neither was it our intention to 
do so, after hearing from him that it was his wish that all the 
past should be forgotten, and he could not desire that more 
heartily than, we did. From our first arrival in harbour we 
were determined^b-forget past grievances ; after being so long 
companions in misfortiiSi,'~^sye were willing to make every 
allowance for the captain's irritabf Jjty, placed as he was after 
the gale, in a situation the most trying' and harassmg. 

His prohibiting us the use of the\ship's boats was but 
little inconvenience to us, as we could at anO^ '^"^® ^®^ ^ 
from the shore, but this was not the only iJSPoy^^^® ^® ^^^' 
jected us to, for shortly after he gave orders than^^ allowance 
of fresh meat, should be only half that given to\[^® sailors, 
which would have been quite sufficient, as we passed ^® %^^^ ^ 
part of our time on shore ; but as the ship's agent in SyolP^y 
agreed that we should have the same allowance as the »^ ^^^* 
we determined that without delay, a stop should be put to IH^^ 


arbitrary proceedings, considering, that if such was the captar 
conduct when in Port, under the eye of the British Consi 
who in distant foreign ports, decided in all such cases, and frorn^ 
whom there was no appeal, there was no saying to what length 
he might go, when out at sea, where he was sole ruler and 
arbitrator. This being decided upon, we laid our complaint 
before the Consul, the captain being present, who after a patient 
hearing, decided in our favour, drawing out a list of rations to 
be served out to us, and enjoining the captain to lay in a 
sufficient supply before leaving the harbour. 

It was a disappointment to me when the surveyors who 
overhauled the damage done to our ship, decided that she 
could be repaired, for 1 had counted on her being condemned 
as unfit for the voyage, when we should have been left in the 
hands of the Consul to send us home by some other vessel. I 


FIFTY YEARS AGO — I 839 TO I 844. 307 

•dreaded the thought of rounding Cape Horn in the old brig, as 
I considered her unfit to weather the stormy seas of those lati- 
tudes. So strong was my impression that she would never 
live in those seas, that I was fast coming to the determination 
to leave her and try my fortune in Chili. My fellow passenger 
Carrew, had the same thoughts as myself, and we had much 
serious consultation on the subject. Carrew had evidently 
•decided to leave the vessel and try his luck in Chili, but he 
was strong, and in good health, whereas I was still unable to 
walk, owing to my old frost-bites, which healed very slowly. 
Eventually, Carrew, with not more than a dollar in his pocket, 
started off into the country, when after being absent about a 
week, I received a message from him, how, I don't remember, 
to say how pleased he had been with his adventure ; that he 
was doing well, and requesting me to join him, which news 
made me fully resolved to go also. But m.y projects were 
doomed to collapse from an unforeseen circumstance. Frank 
the Swede, who I have previously mentioned as working at 
the repairs on board ship, and who had travelled over the 
greater part of Chili, and could speak the Spanish language, 
had some time before made a conditional promise that he would 
go with me when I was ready. We had often talked the 
matter over, and it had been arranged between us, that after 
the repairs of the vessel were completed, we should travel the 
country together. 

One scheme I had in my head, was to travel across the 
Andes, to Buenos Ayres; anything to avoid rounding Cape 
Horn, and a few days before our ship started on her voyage, I 
had all my goods packed to take on shore, either to sell them, 
or leave them in charge of someone. 

And never had a more insane scheme entered into the head 
of mortal man, than this of mine, to leave the ship, and travel 
in a country whose people and language I knew nothing about. 
And it never entered into my head at the time, that I was 
unfit to travel, or what I was going to do when in the country. 


I had an idea I should find some employment for a time, and 
I knew I could get funds from home. All these uncertainties 
I was prepared to face, to escape the voyage round Cape Horn, 

But fortunately for me, although I did not think so at the 
time, Frank, whilst all these schemes were in my head, came 
to me after his day's work, to say, that we must give up our 
contemplated wild-goose scheme, for he had that day engaged 
with the captain, to go with the brig to England. Moreover 
the sailors, and my fellow passengers all did their utmost, to 
dissuade me from my mad undertaking, and I could but own 
to myself, although I was too proud to acknowledge it, that 
the arguments of the sailors, men who knew what it was to 
" rough "it, were so powerfully strong, and so clearly put 
before me, I could see that they were right, and that I was 
wrong, so that I gave up all thoughts of leaving the vessel 
from that day, and resolved to take my chance with my old 
companions, and from whom I should have been truly sorry ta 
part, for rough and unpolished as they were, they were kind- 
hearted fellows, and I liked them. 

The captain behaved neither justly nor generously to these 
men, that is, those forming our old ship's company. They all 
had expected some liberty on shore, when arrived in harbour. 
They had worked hard, and gone through much privation and 
suffering, and if ever men were entitled to liberty on shore, 
they were, but it was very sparingly granted to them ; and 
what was harder treatment still, the captain would not give 
them any money, which was a meanness I should not have 
thought he could have been guilty of. He not only refused 
to advance them any money, but he once served them another 
dirty trick, which made that refusal more irritating still. He 
had given two of them liberty to go on shore, and had 
ordered that they should be back to the ship by nine o'clock 
p.m., but when the time came for their return, although he knew 
that they had no money to pay for a boat or a night's lodging, 
yet he would not allow the ship's boat to go for them. Next 
morning, I was on shore myself early, and poor Bill Growl 

FIFJY YEARS AGO 1 839 TO 1 844. 309 

happening to be one of them, he was the first I saw, regularly, 
as he termed it " on his beam ends." He had not a copper in 
his pocket, and had taken shelter for the night on a seat under 
the piazza in front of the Custom House, taking his ** sleep " 
by the side of the brazero of hot charcoal, belonging to the 
sentry stationed there. Bill said he had enjoyed a tolerably 
;good night's rest, and thanked me for putting the idea of roost- 
ing in such a place into his head, as I had before told him of 
it, having had to do the same thing myself once, owing to 
being too late for a boat, and not being able to obtain 
admittance into any house. Nevertheless, we all enjoyed our- 
selves in the old fore-castle at night, more especially when 
listening to Bill's adventures when on shore, which were very 
amusing, for Bill soon forgot his troubles. One thing he saw, 
which struck him as peculiar, and not up to Bill's standard of 
propriety. The sentry, he said, was barefooted, and the lock 
of the old flint musket was tied on to the stock with a bit of 
string. I had noticed the same thing during my sojourn there. 
And one other peculiarity of this country had attracted Bill's 
notice, but this happened on our arrival, for on the first morn- 
ing we could hear the cocks on ghore, crowing as is their 
custom, which greatly astonished Bill, who said : ** Why, I 
declare, if them cocks don't crow in English," meaning, as 
they crow in England ; for this was the first foreign port Bill 
had ever visited, and he expected to hear, even cocks and hens, 
talk to each other in a foreign language. 

But the time for our departure was fast approaching ; most 
of the repairs were completed. New masts and rigging had 
been fixed, and new sails provided. Some repairs to the bul- 
warks still wanted doing, and we needed a supply of provisions 
and water, which the captain was hastening on, for he became, 
as well he might, daily more restless, and anxious to be going. 
He had already got rid of the ** mate," the one who was dis- 
charged from his office, and which poor " Mac " was appointed 
to fill, and engaged another, who proved in every respect fully 
qualified, and a first-rate seaman ; an addition was also made 


to the sailors of three more hands ; Frank the Swede, Harry 
Wilson the American, and a Kanaka (a Sandwich Islander), all 
very good seamen. 

But a few days before our departure, it was discovered one 
morning, that " Chips " the carpenter was missing. Of course 
no one knew anything about him, but at any rate he had bolted. 
The captain, on hearing the news, was very much vexed, and 
offered a reward to any Chilian or " Vigilante " (the Chilian 
police), who would deliver him up,'^but it was all of no use, as he 
could not be found. ** Chips " was in safe hiding. Yet anyone 
acquainted with sailors must be aware that his departure was- 
well-known in the fore-castle, and none were sorry that he 
had gone ; not owing to any dislike they had for him, for he was 
a good-looking, good-natured lad, but he was too young and 
inexperienced, and had been too long accustomed to warm 
latitudes to be of much use in the cold and severe climate of 
the Southern Ocean, and only stood in the place of a better 
man. I had been in the secret of his intending to ** clear out," 
as it is termed, from the beginning, but was not aware that he 
was going so soon, had he not awakened me as I lay in my 
berth just before leaving us. 

The night was very fine and calm, and far advanced ; the 
lamp was lighted in the fore-castle, but everyone was asleep,, 
with the exception of Chips, who had been the whole time wide 
awake, on the look-out for the boat, which was to take him 
away. Having previous to this got the greater part of his 
things on shore, by instalments, he had only a small bundle to 
take with him. I was sound asleep when the boat arrived, 
but was awakened by feeling someone shaking me by the arm,, 
and on opening my eyes they encountered Chips' broad 
grinning face close to mine. Seizing me by the hand, he gave 
it a hard squeeze, whispering to me : ** I am off, good-bye, a 
safe voyage to you all, we shall never see one another again ; "^ 
after which he tripped noiselessly up the ladder, and I could 
not resist the desire to see him take his departure, for I liked 
Chips very much, so I jumped out of bed and ran on deck,. 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. — 1 839 TO 1 844. 3!! 

just in time to see the boat gliding smoothly and quietly- 
through the still water, for it was still that night. Although 
he saw me, we neither of us spoke, but I stayed on deck until 
they were out of hearing. The night was uncommonly fine, 
and so calm that the splash of the oars was distinctly heard 
till arrived on shore. Being quite warm, I stayed some time 
surveying one of those lovely scenes which never die out of 
one*s memory. The dark forms of the shipping, the moun- 
tains, and the moonlight, and the still water made a picture 
surpassingly beautiful. Not many pictures of the kind have I 
seen more beautiful. 

Ever since we left Sydney, we had had on board, a big 
dog, belonging to the captain, which dog had been the principal 
hindrance to Chips making off ; as he would be sure to bark if 
any boat came near the ship ; but the very day that Chips had 
arranged to go, the captain had been on shore, taking his dog 
with him, and whilst in a generous mood had given the dog 
away to some one in the town, but afterwards repenting of his 
generosity, he had sent the dog away to another ship, the cap- 
tain of which he was acquainted with, so that he might be out 
of the way when the person came for him, who was to be told 
that he could not be found. Had this not been the case. Chips 
would have found he had a difficult undertaking on hand. The 
captain had said that he would not leave the harbour until he 
had found him, but after waiting two or three days, and seeing 
the folly and inutility of doing so, he determined on delajdng 
no longer. Chips was gone, and so was Carrew, for the latter 
never returned to the ship. 

On the 30th of October, we having been in Concepcion 
Bay seven weeks and four days, the anchor was weighed, and 
we proceeded once more on our voyage, but the wind being 
light, our progress into the ocean was very slow, but which we 
entered towards afternoon. A Peruvian barque was sailing out 
at the same time, being a little in advance of us, but having 
cleared the harbour, her captain backed his sails, and waited 
until we got up to him, then through his speaking trumpet, he 


addressed us as follows : ** I am waiting for you to bid you 
farewell, wishing you a pleasanter and a more favourable 
voyage than you have hitherto had." After which, his men 
gave us three cheers, which was returned from our vessel, 
when he again squared the yards and bore to the North, to- 
wards the land of the children of the Sun, whilst we bore to 
the Southward, once more to battle with snow and tempest. — 
See Appendix P, 

As regards myself, the state of uncertainty I had been in 
with respect to my proposed stay in Chili, was completely set 
at rest. My fate and future, being again linked with that of 
the brig ** Skerne." Next morning, on going on deck, I found 
that we had seen the last of the romantic hills of Chili, no land 
was to be seen anywhere, nothing but the boundless ocean. 
We were now making to the Southward, and, the wind being 
favourable, we soon began to experience a colder climate, and 
by the i8th of November had arrived in the latitude of Cape 
Horn, but it was impossible for anyone who had ever been 
there before, to be mistaken as to our present locality. 

Although the summer season of this desolate region was 
fast approaching, yet there was the same cold weather, and 
the same long, rolling seas to encounter, accompanied with 
the same heavy black clouds sweeping over the sky, with sleet 
and hail driving almost horizontally across the ocean. Yet we 
were in the enjoyment of many advantages in comparison with 
the time of our former trials here. We had a very efficient 
" Mate," and an addition of three able seamen, who knew the 
work they had to do, and could do it. This was a matter of 
very great importance, and tended to ease our minds of many 
forebodings ; many a good ship being lost for want of sufficient 
hands to work her. The sun, also, at this time, rose higher in 
the heavens, and the days were greatly lengthened, so much so, 
that there were but two hours of real night, which made even 
the cold fierce winds, and mountainous seas of Cape Horn, 
lose much of their dreaded terrors. 

FIFTY YEARS AGO 1 839 TO 1 844. 313 

Most captains, whilst on board, have, or used to have, 
an objection to communicating to the sailors the latitude and 
longitude of the locality they were in, that was a piece of in- 
formation reserved for the cabin passengers, yet we could 

generally obtain tolerably accurate information as to our where- 
abouts by some means or other ; and the day came when it was 
reported that we were south-east of Cape Horn, which meant 
that we had rounded the Cape, and the report gained strength 
by hearing from the sailors the next day, that our course was 
East by North, and the wind being still fair, put us all in 
high spirits. But towards the afternoon of that day, the wind 
had increased to such a degree, that we all began to expect a 
rough night, which it proved to be, and owing to the gale in- 
creasing, the ship was ** hove to." She had been running 
previous to this, before the wind, and whilst doing so, we 
passed a ship, also " hove to," which was making for the West 
•coast, the coast we were leaving, and the wind, though fair for 
us, was dead a-head for them, and although we came very near 
each other, yet there were no signals hoisted by either vessel, 
as the gale would have blown them to ribbons. It was after 
all a pleasant sight to see we had company, if only for a short 
space of time, an occurrence which rarely happens at this 
extremity of the globe. At dark, the gale was at its highest, 
and the wind whistled and roared through the rigging. The 
wind roars through a forest when a gale is blowing, but the 
peculiar whistling seems to belong to the sea, and is a weird 
and unearthly sound. It seemed as if the storm-spirit had 
been determined to try his powers once again on our poor old 
ship. I had been for two or three days laid up in my berth, 
unwell, but although it was now late in the night, I could not 
sleep, our former disaster was too vividly brought to my 
recollection, and as the ship, bent to the blast, and lay over 
nearly on her beam-ends, the probability of a similar disaster 
was ever uppermost in my thoughts. It was wet and comfort- 
less down below, but still more so on deck. However, to divert 
my mind from gloomy thoughts, I got up and dressed myself, 


and went and sat down on one of the seamen's chests in the 
fore-castle. The watch below, was in bed, and fast asleep, and 
nothing was to be heard but the roaring of the wind, and the 
creaking and groaning of the ship's masts and timbers. I had 
not been long there before one of the seamen came down from 
off deck, and in answer to my questions respecting the weather, 
he only shook his head, and then settling down on his chest, 
immediately fell asleep, leaving me again to my reflections, 
which were not to be envied. Many years after these events,. 
I have crossed the Bay of Biscay in cold stormy weather, but 
in the fine steam-ships which now traverse the ocean, when all 
the accompanying conditions were so different. And when the 
night was dark and stormy on deck, what a pleasure it was to- 
go down below, and make my way to the brilliantly-lighted 
engine-room, the upper part of which is on the same deck as 
the cabins ; and watch and listen to the rise and fall of the 
pistons, with their regular and monotonous beat, like the steady 
going of a great clock, and all so pleasant and cheerful ; such a 
contrast with the storm outside of us ! How we should have 
enjoyed the companionship of these engines, if such a boon 
had been possible, amidst our discomforts and in this dreary 
ocean ! Many times I blamed myself for not staying with my 
fellow passenger, Carrew, in Chili, but it was now too late for 
repentance, nevertheless, on the watch coming down below, they 
brought the welcome intelligence that the gale was abating. 

Next day the wind was very strong and favourable and 
we were able to run before it, our course being still more 
Northerly. November 21st was the same, but accompanied 
by squalls of wind with snow. This day was a very important 
one to us, as we sighted Diego's Isles, proving that we were 
leaving Cape Horn behind us, and all hands were rejoicing at 
the cheering prospect of soon being clear of these stormy seas. 
On the 22nd we were going at a spanking rate, the wind 
from that date never abating, or proving unfavourable until 
our arrival on the verge of the tropics, which was on the 
1 6th of December. We were now within the influence of 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. 1 839 TO 1 844. 315 

the Trade winds, and for many a day after, until outside the 
Northern Tropic ; the weather all the time being beautifully 
fine and warm. The hatches were taken off, to admit air and 
sunshine, and all our past dangers were forgotten. The fore- 
castle, which had so long been miserably wet and uncomfort- 
able, was now thoroughly cleaned out, and made to look tidy 
and clean. All work was done cheerfully and with a **will," 
the grumbling and surliness of the sailors having disappeared 
with the disagreeable weather. The days were hot, but 
pleasant, but the nights are the pleasantest part of the twenty- 
four hours in the tropics, particularly when lighted by a nearly 
full moon. The sea, then, has a beauty of its own, as the 
ship steadily moves on her way before the gentle influence of 
the Trade winds, and when there was no moon-light, the 
luminosity of the sea, by night, more especially in the wake of 
the ship and at the bows, is an interesting and wonderful 
phenomenon. Although there is a sameness about the sea, 
yet there are times of real enjoyment, whilst in this sunny 
portion of it. In that far-off extremity of the globe, where 
we had so recently been contending with cold and storm, 
the sea has at times terrors, not in the power of language to- 
describe ; but in these tropics, all is peace and tranquility, 
the very ideal of that fabled sea through which the dying 
Indian imagines he has to voyage to those sunny isles where 
are located the mansions of happiness. 

Now was the time when sailor's yarns, especially in the 
still warm nights, were amusing and enjoyable, and all could 
spin yarns, but in that particular, old Jack Lawson could beat 
all the rest ; for in the first place he had the ** gift," and then 
he had seen much of the world, and had taken part in many 
adventures. I wish I could remember some of his yarns, for 
they were amusing, and often interesting. Jack was a cheerful 
fellow, and on these warm nights when work was done, never 
was he in so happy a mood as when sitting on the deck mend- 
ing his old rags, and spinning yarns, or helping others to spin 
theirs. Jack, like all sailors, was expert with the needle, and 


was everlastingly mending his toggery, and yet never seemed 
to have finished. 

There were only two more of the old sailors, besides Jack 
Lawson, who had shipped in Sydney, the remainder of the 
crew being new hands, shipped at Talcahuano, amongst which 
were Harry Wilson, the American, and Frank the Swede, and 
both these men were favourites of mine, both being much alike 
in character and disposition, which was good-humoured and 
cheerful, and rendered still more agreeable by their good sense 
and superior intelligence. But Frank was the most extra- 
ordinary man of the two, and one of those singular beings one 
not unfrequently meets with, associated with British sailors. 
Although a Swede, he could speak fluently the English and 
Spanish languages ; but he prided himself on his English, which 
was certainly very good. Reading, he was very fond of. He 
read over and over again our only reading book : ** Two Years 
before the Mast," until he knew it almost off" by heart, for he 
had a most tenacious memory. 

He could both read and write the English language, and 
was well versed in the science of navigation. In his watch 
below, whilst in these warm latitudes, when he ought to have 
been asleep, he would lie on his back in his berth, and with a 
piece of chalk work out rules in arithmetic, and navigation 
problems on the deck, which lay over his head ; and fortunately 
for him, I had amongst my luggage an old school-arithmetic, 
which he had the use of, and prized exceedingly, although it 
was an instruction book, no schoolmaster of the present day 
would accept as a gift. And to add to all this, Frank had had 
few opportunities for gaining knowledge, and had travelled a 
:great deal, and seen many lands. Whilst in the tropics, 
<iuring the beautiful nights so common there, I have for many a 
long hour been much amused and interested with Frank's 
description of countries and his many adventures ; and 
although it is many years since we parted company, there is no 
one of the many people I became acquainted with in my travels. 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. 1 839 TO 1 844. 317 

that it would give me greater pleasure to see, than Frank the 

Both Frank and Harry Wilson in their wandering, had 
visited many of the Pacific islands, and they both told me, that 
in some few of them, nearly all the natives had in their huts a 
Bible, for which the missionaries charged them two doUars^ 
(eight shillings). But, from their own observation, few seemed 
to understand its meaning ; but the missionaries always urged 
upon them the necessity of having one, if they valued their own 
salvation. And many of the natives looked upon it as a 
desirable thing to have in their houses, treating it as a ** fetish," 
and some worshipping it as such. I had no reason to doubt 
the truth of what they told me, for in our conversations they 
never, in relating their adventures, seemed inclined to indulge 
in romancing, knowing, as they did, that we were, and had 
been, rovers like themselves. But that the natives should be 
induced to invest in a Bible at a cost of two dollars, was more 
than I could credit. I could not dispute their statement, I had 
no reason to do so : but I thought at the time, so far as regards- 
the charge made for Bibles, that they might be mistaken ; that 
they might have gained their information from hearsay, and 
not from their own knowledge. But since then, I have had 
cause to alter that opinion. — Set Appendix Q, 

Whilst off the coast of Brazil, we sighted many ships, and 
on December 20th we spoke the ** Agnes," of Liverpool^ 
bound for Singapore, and, the sea being calm, our captain had 
one of the boats lowered, and went on board of her. The two- 
ships were very near to each other, and both ships backed their 
fore and maiti top-sails, to bring them stationary, during the 
time the interview was going on. When two sailing ships are 
in close proximity like this, it is a beautiful sight to see, 
especially in warm latitudes, with a bright sun overhead, but 
that is a sight not often seen now. There the ship lay, like a 
proud war-horse reined in, carrying a cloud of white sails, and 
swaying from side to side, as if impatient under the restraint ;. 


and then with a roll, her bows or stern alternately sinking or 
rising, showing the bright copper-sheathing, sparkling with sea- 

I had been for some time unwell, and as Frank was one of 
the men who manned the boat, I got him to ask our visitors for 
some medicine, for our captain had none of any kind. On the 
return of our boat, Frank brought me a variety of medicine, 
and the captain brought with him some late English newspapers, 
amongst which was a copy of the Illustrated London News, 
for October 12th, 1844, the first copy of that newspaper any of 
us had ever seen, which when they had been looked over by 
the cabin passengers, he handed over to us. What a treat ! 
To us who had not seen an English newspaper for six months ! 
And the medicine I got did me good, and heartily thankful I 
felt to the unknown giver, for we never saw each other. But 
the sailors of those days, although they might as a class, he 
outwardly without polish and unconventional in manners, 
as a rule, were recklessly kind-hearted, never counting the cost 
when relieving a comrade in difficulty or distress.* 

One of the witty sayings of the Rev. Sydney Smith, was : 
** Yes ! you find people ready enough to act the part of. the 
good Samaritan, without the oil and the two pence ; " and I 
have found his words too true during my life's experience, 
but never did I find them so, in the conduct of sailors of what- 
ever nationality. 

The interview over, the yards of both ships were squared, 
and they proceeded on their respective voyages, the distance 
which separated us steadily increasing, until our friendly visitors, 
slowly sinking below the horizon, vanished out of sight. 

■* In my old diary, kept on board ship, the above inoident is entered as follows :-~ 
" January 6tn, Sunday (1845). Beoeived two newspapers from the captain, the 
Go-ahead Journal, and an Illustrated London News, for October 12th, 1844, con- 
taining particulars of Louis Phillipe's visit to England." 

The Go-ahead Journal must have gone ahead too fast, for from ih&t time to this I 
have never seen or heard of it. 

But on September 2nd, 1891,.being in a Public Beading-room, I met with a strange 
and singular corroboration of the accuracy of the entry in my old diary, for on 
looking over the Illustrated London News, for August 29th, 1891, in which is an 
illustrated description of the French fleet then at Portsmouth, on a visit to Her 
Majesty; amongst the illustration was a reproduction from an old copy of 
the same newspaper, of the landing of Louis Phillipe in England, dated October 
12th, 1844, 46 vears after the entry in my old diary. I scarcely need say the sight 
of that old picture pleased me. 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. — 1 839 TO 1 844. 3I9 

On the 27th December, we passed close by the rocks of 

San Martin, the island of Trinidad being faintly visible on the 

larboard beam, and the favourable wind we had, in due time, 

carried us clear of the tropics, and into colder latitudes. On 

the 14th February, 1845, for we had entered into a new year, 
we got into soundings, and on the 17th we first saw land, the 
land of old England, and sighted Scilly Lights the same night, 
and soon afterwards we were in the English Channel. Light 
.and baffling winds detained us in the Channel several days, 
during which time many pilot boats were to be seen, some of 
them hailing us, wanting to know, from whence we had come, 
and for what Port we where bound ; and the captain of one of 
them boarded us, and by him I sent a letter to my friends at 
home, directing them to send me some money, and by the 
captain's advice, to a Post -Office in the Minories, owing to its 
being near the docks we were hoping soon to enter ; for our 
long stay in Chili had nearly ** cleared me out " of that very 
necessary commodity. Eventually we got near the mouth of 
•of the Thames, when a steam-tug took us in tow, and towards 
the close of the evening, of the 26th of February, we were 
safely floating in the entrance basin of the London Docks. 
Some of our passengers immediately left the ship, and proceeded 
to their several destinations, among whom, was William, one 
of my fellow steerage passengers, whose destination was White- 
chapel, a place not having the best of reputations. As I knew 
nothing of London, having done no more than pass through it 
twice, I asked him to call at the Post-Office in the Minories for 
the letter which I was expecting, and which he knew con- 
tained money, and if he could bring it to me in the morning, 
he would do me a favour. This he promised to do. My request, 
I must admit, will not, to the ordinary vision, show me as being 
gifted with much worldly wisdom, to entrust to the hands of 
an ex-convict, a letter containing a /20 Bank of England note ; 
yet I had no misgivings. I had now for five years been in 
companionship with all sorts and conditions of men, and my 
views of human nature and conduct, imbibed in my early days. 


the result of long residence in a small country town or villiage,. 
had been considerably broadened, and I had long since found 
out, that some devils are not so black as they are painted ; 
and some saints, not so saintly as they seem, or as they wish 
the world to believe them to be. And I was not disappointed 
in this instance, for the following morning William made his 
appearance, and handed me a letter over the side of the dock, 
wished me good-bye, and went his way, and I never saw him 

And thus ended favourably a voyage which had so disastrous 
a beginning ; a voyage which had necessitated eight months 
and eight days to complete, and wanderings which had 
occupied five years and two weeks. As night came on, a bell 
from a church near was tolling, a sound so strange, and yet 
once so familiar, and stepping on to the flag pavement, I en- 
joyed the indescribable pleasure of once more feeling myself on 
solid land, and in the country of my birth ; and the little brig 
lay alongside motionless as a dead thing, like a toil worn being 
resting after many labours. And difficult it was to realize that 
this little brig of 121 tons burthen, had been our shelter and 
our home for so many months, and had had to contend with,, 
and had escaped from, so many perils of the sea. 

The poor Kanaka stood beside me, his mind occupied, I 
have no doubt, with thoughts very different from mine, for I 
knew by his actions, and his imperfect attempts to speak his 
thoughts during the sail up the river, that the sights we had 
seen that day, had produced in his mind astonishment and 

The following morning the brig was taken into the Dock,, 
and I cleared out all my luggage, including the birds, passing- 
them through the Custom House ; 1 am not sure if I had any 
Customs dues to pay on the birds, but I know I had to pay 
about thirty shillings on the block of ornamental wood, the . 
officer at the same time telling me, that had I brought it about 
two months later, it would have come in duty free, the Customs- 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. 1 839 TO 1 844. 32 1 

duties on such things having been aboHshed. I took up my 
quarters in a coffee-house in the Minories, where I remained 
nearly three weeks, spending my time in seeing some of the 
many ** sights " of London, all of which were novelties to me. 

I saw once again the old brig and my sailor companions, 
who had all very bad colds, so bad that their voices were reduced 
to an almost inaudible whisper, a thing not unusual for sailors 
to do on reaching land, and I suffered in the same way. That 
was the last time we met, for when I went to see them a day 
or two after, I found that the brig had discharged her cargo, 
and had left the Docks, and was anchored out in the river ; and 
truly sorry was I to part from these fellows. 

That is forty-five years ago (writing in 1890), and since 
then I have never seen or heard of any of them. 

My experience with sailors has caused me to entertain an 
affectionate regard for them, and I may say more especially for 
those who had so long been my companions in sunshine and 
misfortune. May they have better treatment in the future, than 
they have had in the past ! I know no class of workers who have 
been worse treated. As a class at this time, and for many years 
afterwards, they were hard worked, often half starved, and 
miserably paid, and their lives sacrificed to the God of mammon, 
with a recklessness disgraceful to a civilized nation. For greed 
of gain, they have been sent out to sea in rotten ships, or ships 
overladen, on voyages from which their safe return was extremely 
doubtful, and in some instances neither expected or desired. 
17,624 British sailors were lost at sea in ten years, from 1878 
to 1887, and it may be safely said, half, or more than half of 
these lives, were wilfully and knowingly sacrificed ; and the 
sacrifice of life was greater in proportion, when I was gaining 
my experiences. 

The sailor has always figured both in poetry and fiction 
as a noble generous fellow. As a class, sailors know little about 
conventional religion, but they inherit largely one of its brightest 
virtues — generosity. And I can say from my own experience. 


no class, as a class, is actuated by more generous impulses, and 
I have received from them kindness, and an open-handed 
liberklily, virtues to which many of much greater pretensions, 
cannot lay claim. 

So great is the change accomplished in travelling, both by 
land and by sea, that it is difficult now to realize what it was 
only half-a-century ago. 

The romance of the sea is gone, and with it many of its 
perils and hardships. Time and distance have been shortened, 
and travelling, either by land or sea, is now only a luxurious 
episode in the lives of the well-to-do. The days of Robinson 
Crusce and undiscovered desert islands, are now things belonging 
to a dead past, and never hkely to be seen or heard of again. 


We part Company, I and my old Companions, for the last time — With the 
exception of two Persons, never see any of them again — Concluding 


I have little now to add to this narrative of adventure. 
By the Midland Railway I arrived safely at my native home 
in the North of England. That line was then (1845), the only 
one going northwards, and its pace was slow, and its charges 
high, except by its one Parliamentary train, by which I travelled, 
and which stopped at every station. 

The Parrakeets I brought with me, got a good home, occupy- 
ing a cage almost as spacious as an aviary ; and my old attached 
friend, ** Cocky," had a home equally as good, at a farm house 
in a small village, where he was at liberty to go where he 
pleased, roosting at night on a perch in the kitchen, and much 
amused were the native inhabitants of the village with his 
comical ways. Although I lived about four miles distant, I 
used to see him at intervals of a few weeks, and no living thing 
could be more affectionately fond than was poor " Cocky." 

On my visit, although I could not at the time see him, 
on calling him by his name, he would soon make his appearance, 
come on to my shoulder, give me some of his kisses, and talk 
his nonsense, and at meal times he would sit on the back of 
my chair all the time ; and when I left for my own home, he 
would, if not prevented, follow me all the distance, every now 
and then alighting on the road, waiting for me to pick him up. 
Such was the character and disposition of poor ** Cocky," and 
yet he came to an unexpected and sad end. 

In the spring of the second year of his residence in 
England, he was for one or two days missing, having either 


met with his death, or wandered to a distance from his home, 
and both conjectures proved to be true. He wandered away 
to a village, a distance of about three miles, and alighted on 
the roof of a square of buildings, forming the stables and other 
offices of a gentleman resident there. From the roof he 
alighted on to the ground inside the square, and was, I am 
sure, ready to enter into friendly conversation with anyone 
who would give him the opportunity. But that was not to be. 
One of those big, half-grown, white savages, not a boy, and yet 
not quite a man, employed in the stables, saw him, and with 
less consideration than a savage would have, knocked him on 
the head with a broom stick. The gentleman who owned the 
premises, heard of the bird, and of his having been killed, and 
making enquiries, found out the place from whence poor 
"Cocky" had strayed, and sent the dead bird by his game- 
keeper, with his regrets at the unfortunate occurrence ; and 
from the game-keeper we learnt all the particulars of his 
brutal murder. 

Such was the end of poor ** Cocky;" such was the end of 
the last of my companions in the perils of the sea ! It grieves 
me now to write about him, and to do so brings to my remem- 
brance most vividly and painfully his many comical ways, 
and his confiding affection. Pity it is, that missionaries 
should travel so far in search of savages needing conversion, 
when so many exist, by the hundred thousand, of their own 
colour, and at their own doors ! 

Forty-five years is it now (1890) since I completed my 
travels, and of all the people I became acquainted with, whether 
at sea or on land, with the exception of two persons, they 
might be to me as dead, for I have never again seen any of 
them. The two I did see, were the overseer and his wife, 
whose acquaintance I made on Molonglo Plains, as related on 
page 56. They had done well in Australia ; had invested 
well, and had come home to live and enjoy the proceeds. 

They remembered the locality I came from, and a few 
years after my arrival in England, they found me out, and paid 

FIFTY YEARS AGO — 1 839 TO 1 844. 325 

me a long visit. My friend, John Bruse, of Sydney, and I, had 
some correspondence many years ago. With these exceptions, 
I have never heard of, or from any of them. And although my 
original intention was to return to Australia, and make it my 
home, I did not do so, not because my intentions had under- 
gone a change, but from other causes. 

I have already explained in the Introductory Chapter, how 
widely my father's ideas and mine differed as to what was 
proper for a boy to be, and to do. He could not give me any 
advice, for he had none to give. His one idea was ** farming," 
and outside that particular sphere he knew nothing, and my 
knowledge of the world and its ways was as limited. He was 
an old-fashioned farmer, and, for one of his class, had accumu- 
lated a considerable fortune. My irregular erratic ways had 
always been a puzzle to him, and he came to the conviction 
that I would never ** settle down to anything," or, in other words, 
that I would ** go to the bad," and that what he had to leave 
me by his Will, would not be safe except in the form of an 

As years rolled on, and my knowledge and experience 
widened, I found employments that would have suited my 
tastes well, but that knowledge came too late. 

My father died in 1837, and by his last Will and Testa- 
ment, provided liberally for my brothers and sisters, and what 
he did leave them, was at their own disposal ; and following 
out his ideas as respects myself; being, to his thinking, the 
scape-grace of the family, he cut down my allowance, and left 
that in the form of an annuity.''' This annuity was the rent 
of a small farm, to be paid to me half-yearly ; and at my death 
was to go to my children, if I had any, but not having any, 
which is as it so happens to be, then the farm was to be sold, 
and divided amongst my brothers and sisters, if living, or if 
otherwise, their children. So that the capital sum from which 

* As some readers may have doubts about the exact meaning of the word—" Scape- 
grace," here it is/from the Imperial Dictionary. " Scape-grace, an idle, worth- 
less fellow.*' 


my annuity was derived, and which my father could not trust 
me to use discreetly, goes to others, of whose character and 
disposition he knew nothing, nor could even guess, for none 
of them at that time were born ; and some of whom might, 
for ought he knew, be neither entitled by merit or qualified by 
discretion, to inherit such a boon. Better, by far, and more 
rational would it have been, if in such cases of lapsed property, 
it was given to some benevolent institution. 

Such was the method prescribed by the " wisdom of our 
ancestors,*' and in use still, to safe-guard the interests of those 
who were thought incapable of taking care of themselves. 
That may be ancestral wisdom, but it is not the wisdom of 
common sense. 

But the rights of fathers, as fathers, were unlimited then, 
and were protected ; when the laws of a Christian legislature sanc- 
tioned the murder of a poacher or trespasser, by spring-guns 
and man-traps, as aids in the preservation of game, it cannot 
surprise anyone, that a father, by the sanction of this same 
legislature, had unlimited right to dispose of his property 
according to his inclination ; that a father could legally disin- 
herit his children and his wife also, and leave all he had to 
his paramour, if he had one, even should all he be possessed 
of, have been derived through his wife ; such were the legal 
rights of a father, mother's had no rights then. Mother's and 
children's rights were far better protected in the middle ages by 
our barbarous ancestors, as history will shew. See Appendix R. 

My father, in his ignorance made a mistake, and had the 
legislature of this country been what it pretends to be — Christ- 
ian — and yet is not, it would long ago have established a 
Court of Equity, to rectify injustice, and mistakes the result 
of ignorance. A Court by that name is in existence, but it is 
a sham. 

These particulars of private personal matters, can, I 
know, have little interest for the general reader, but are 
introduced here in order to explain why I did not return to 

FIFTY YEARS AGO 1 839 TO 1 844. 327 

Australia, and also to expose the barbarism of our boasted 

I do not blame my father ; he acted wisely and discreetly, 
according to his knowledge. But this annuity stopped my 
return to Australia. I wanted to capitalize it, but no one 
would buy it. All who knew me, and my propensity for 
wandering, declined having anything to do with it, except at 
a very low figure. There was nothing in my personal habits 
tending to shorten my hfe, for I was neither a ** drinker " or a 
gambler, nor ever have been. And yet their reasoning was in 
some respects justifiable. What is the value of a life like his ? 
So they reasoned. He wants to return to Australia, and may 
be shipwrecked on his way out. 

I knew that Australia was at this time in a very bad way, 
and such was the general opinion in England. And I also 
knew that many properties near Melbourne, and also in what 
was then the town, were a drug in the market, for which it 
was almost impossible to find purchasers ; such was the 
financial depression in the Australian colonies at that time. 
Yet I felt certain, from my knowledge of the climate, and 
natural capabilities of those colonies, that any investment 
made then^ would before very long prove the wisdom of it. 
And that was my intention, to invest in real property, take a 
situation for a time, and await events. 

But it could not be done. The annuity, as a saleable 
commodity, was worth little. It depended, to all appearance, 
on a very uncertain life. The farm could not be sold ; it could 
not be mortgaged. It was " tied up " in the form of a 
" settlement " by the ** dead hand " and " the wisdom of our 
ancestors,'* like the majority of the land in the three Kingdoms ; 
weighted, as it is, and hampered with " settlements," "primo- 
genitures," and " entails " to that degree it cannot be 
utilized to the best advantage, either to the nation or to 
individuals. The owners, or rather nominal owners, dare not 


spend money on these lands, and no wise tenant would do so. 
Such is the disastrous result in practice of the ** wisdom of our 

Had it not been for that immaculate wisdom, I would 
have invested the value of that farm in Melbourne, or its near 
neighbourhood, when it would by this time, according to the 
present value of land there, be worth fifty times or more the 
original cost of the farm. (See pages 89 and 90.) But that 
could not be done ; and the value of that farm now is not more 
than half its original cost. 

The result of my failure to capitalize the annuity, to sell, 
or to mortgage, was ; my return to Australia was first post- 
poned, and eventually given up altogether; a step which I 
have ever since had cause to regret. No one has gained by 
that step, and least of all residuary legatees. 

It would be well, if in the future, our legislators would put 
an end to all " settlements " in land, by Will or Deed. All 
industry suffers in consequence of this tendency to create life 
interests in land. 

And I would add : If cautious parents wish to protect 
their children from the consequence of their own folly and 
extravagance, let the law compel them to adopt other methods 
than settlements in land. There is no need for me to say how 
that should be done. 

And here I bring my narrative of adventures to a conclusion, 
and if either Colonial or English readers derive as much plea- 
sure from its perusal as I have in writing it, I am satisfied ; 
not that it has been a pleasure to me, the mechanical drudgery 
of copying, and often re-copying ; or the labour of putting into 
book-form fragmentary matter gleaned from many sources, foi 
neither counter nor desk work ever had any attractions for me ; 
but travelling over the old familiar ground, and bringing to life 
again old memories and old friendships, have afforded me a 
real pleasure. 



J\ ... The great Snowstorm of 1836. ... Page 3 

The following particulars of this great Snowstorm will no 
doubt interest many readers. It is a contribution to the Leeds 
Mercury for January 17th, 189 1, by Mr. J. T. Hand, of Halifax, 
and is in every respect a truthful description. I remember that 
in some parts of our journey, our coach went through deep 
cuttings where the banks of snow were higher than our heads, 
as we sat on the coach. — ** It commenced on the afternoon of 
Christmas Day, 1836, which in that year fell on a Sunday, and 
was so violent, that people returning from Church in the 
evening, in the suburbs of London, had much to relate of the 
difficulties experienced in getting the children and the feeble 
safely home through the blinding and howling tempest. With 
scarcely a moment's pause or intermission, the snow continued 
to fall for five days and nights. The mails, which ought to 
have arrived in London at six o'clock on the morning of 26th 
December, were reported in most cases to be stuck in the snow. 
Some few made their way safely to St. Martin's-le-Grand, but 
the earlier of them did not arrive until eight o'clock at night. 
About 5 p.m. on the 26th, the guard of the Holyhead mail, 
made his appearance at the General Post-office, mounted on 
one of his leaders, to report that the Manchester, Halifax, 
Holyhead, and Chester mails, were embedded in snowdrifts 
near Dunstable. The guards were unanimous in representing 
the night of Sunday, the 25th of December, as the severest 
they had ever experienced. Scarcely a single stage coach or 
mail left London on the 26th or 27th, and arrivals from the 
country were equally late. The fall of snow was not confined 


to the metropolis and home counties, but extended over every 
part of the kingdom. The drifts in many places were from 
12ft. to 25ft. in depth, and some of the coachmen averred that 
the banks of snow through which armies of labourers had to 
cut a passage, were higher than their heads as they sat on the 
box. The guard of the mail, which left Exeter on the evening 
of the 26th, stated that before the vehicle reached London, on 
the night of the 29th, it was buried five times in different drifts, 
and had to be dug out on each occasion. The town of St. 
Alban's was full of mails and coaches, which could not pass up 
or down the road, and on the morning of the 27th, fourteen of 
these vehicles had to be abandoned, as the snow was falling 
heavier than ever. In all cases the bags were removed and 
the horses extricated, the vehicles being left in the snow until 
the storm abated. On the evening of the 26th, the coachman 
of the Dover mail started defiantly from Gracechurch-street at 
the usual time, with the guard for his solitary companion. 
Before many hours had elapsed, the two officials returned to 
Gracechurch-street, reporting that with infinite difficulty they 
had reached the top of Shooter's-hill, beyond which point they 
found the road impassable. 

Christmas Pastimes 50 years ago. Page 1 1 

As the Christmas pastime of the " old horse " is so com- 
pletely a thing of the past, and as the present generation know 
nothing whatever about it, not even by name, I am tempted to 
give a few particulars respecting it. 

The men who got up the play of the " old horse " were 
always the farm labourers of the villages, men of any age, not 
too old. The first thing they did, was to find the skull of a dead 
horse, one that had been exposed to the sun and weather a long 
time, perfectly sound, clean, and bleached white ; that was no 

FIFTY YEARS AGO 1 839 TO 1 844. 33 1 

difficult thing to do. The skull was then covered with black 
cldth, the inside of the mouth lined with red cloth, the bottoms 
of two of the old-fashioned brandy bottles fastened in for eyes, 
and a pair of well-defined ears made out of an old hat. 

The lower jaw was fastened securely to the skull part, and 
attached to it was a lever, enabling the man who worked the 
horse, to open or shut its mouth at discretion. The end of an 
ordinary broom handle was securely fastened under the base 
of the skull, the other end resting on the ground. 

Fastened to the base of the skull, was a large ordinary 
horse rug, which served to cover the man who worked the " old 
horse ; " one hand held the broomstick support of the head, the 
other grasped the handle which worked the jaw. 

When all was fixed, and the man in his place, covered 
out of sight under the rug, the reader may imagine the hideous 
appearance of the *' old horse," more especially in the dim light 
of the farmer's kitchen, for there were no paraffin lamps then ; 
there would be a good blazing fire, and one or two ordinary 
tallow dips, to lighten the darkness ; that was all. 

The horse would be fixed up outside in the yard, the centre 
of the kitchen would be cleared, and all the inmates would 
take their places, either seated or standing, leaving the centre 
clear for the performance. 

When all was ready, the attendants of the ** old horse '* 
would march in, just inside the entrance door, leaving an open- 
ing for the horse, and commence their song, for they had a 
song to accompany this performance. Immediately after, the 
" old horse " would make his appearance out of the darkness, 
turn his head two or three times sharply round, as if to notice 
who is who ; open his mouth to the full width, and make a rush 
at some of the audience, giving a tremendous snap with the 
under jaw. Sometimes the first rush would be made to the 
master of the house ; sometimes to one of the girls ; then there 
would be a scream and a shout and an attempt to escape, 
which was generally prevented, but not always. 


And so the game would go on, the ** old horse " making a 
rush sometimes at one, and then at another. After this perform- 
ance had gone on for perhaps about twenty minutes, the attack 
of the horse on the audience would cease, and he would stand 
quietly in the centre of the kitchen, and the frightened ones 
would come out of their hiding places to witness the last 
performance ; and one of the men would come forward and 
tell the audience that as far as they were concerned the perform- 
ance was over, but as the horse was old, and had a long distance 
to travel, and had lost a shoe, it was necessary to shoe him. 
This part of the performance was most relished, and, as 
mentioned in the introductory chapter, generally ** brought 
down the house." 

The blacksmith would come in with his tools, for the 
purpose of shoeing the horse, going up to him very gently, and 
stroking him with a "whoa my lad," then stoop down to fix 
the shoe, when the ** old horse " would turn sharply round, and 
with a snap of the jaws sieze him by his posterior ; then perhaps 
the blacksmith would appear to be in a dreadful fright, and run 
away, but soon to be called back, and told to go on with his 
work ; and then commenced the struggle between the horse and 
the blacksmith. The shoeing ultimately being completed, and 
the ** old horse " led outside. 

After the man had divested himself of his **old horse" trap- 
pings, he, and the rest would come in and be regaled with plum 
cake and ale, and a gift of money, and then all would depart to 
some other house to go through the same performance. 

It was not every man who could act the part of the ** old 
horse " well ; he must be young and active, and small in size, 
and have some agility about him. 

A short, stiff little man I knew well, who had become old 
and blind, and died only so lately as 1888, was, when he was 
young, one of the best ** oH horse " performers I ever saw. 

FIBTY YEARS AGO. 1 839 TO 1 844. 333 

C^ Riding the Stang. ... Page 12 

I remember seeing this performance once, and that must 
be nearly 70 years ago (dating from 1890), when a boy at a 
school in a village of considerable size. It was in the eve.nmg 
after school hours when we were all at play ; the men having 
charge of the Stang, and making the round of the village, 
came up to our school and went through their performance, very 
much to the delight of us boys. 

The men were of the class of farm labourers, all young 

and strong, and four of them carried on their shoulders a short 

ladder, on which sat astride a tall, well-built man, who, after 

the procession came to a halt, commenced as follows, in a clear, 

loud voice : 

1 — rang a-dang, — dang — dang — dang dang (laying extra 

stress on the last dang). 

It's neither for your cause nor my cause, 
That I ride this Stang. 

But for . . . . that bad man, 
For banging his wife .... 

He bangs her — he brays her, 

He bangs her indeed, 
He bangs poor Peggy, for neither cause nor need. 

So much of the doggerel I well remember, for we lads were 
so delighted with the performance, that we practised riding the 
Stang amongst ourselves for some time after, and that is how 
it became impressed on my memory, and which I have 
never forgotten. 

But more than fifty years after that event, I, being in- 
terested in these old customs, got from a man who was well 
acquainted with this one of Riding the Stang, and who had 
taken a part in it, another version of the old doggerel, as he knew 
it, which is as follows : 

With a rang— a-dang, dang— dang — dang — dang — dang, 
It's neither for your cause nor my cause 

that I ride this Stang ; 
But for . . . . (naming the man), 
That blood-thirsty bad man, 
For banging his wife Sarah Ann ; 
He bangs her — he brays her, 
He bangs her indeed, 
He bangs that poor creature when she stands no need. 


He neither takes stick, stake, nor stower, 

Bat ap*8 with his fist, and knocks her ower ; 

He's the greatest rascal that ever was heard tell, 

And his neighbours know it very well ; 

But if he does'nt mend his manners, 

The skin of his back shall go to the tanners ; 

And if the tanner does'nt tan it well, 

It shall be hung on the highest nail in hell ; 

And if that nail should chance to break, 

We'U hang it on Old Harry's back ; 

And if Old Harry should chance to run, 

We'll shoot him with a wooden gun. 

Now all you good people that live in this row, 
A warning take, for this is our law ; 
If any of you your wives do bang. 
Three nights we'll merrily ride the stang. 
Then with a hip — hip — hurrah — hurrah. 

The wooden gun mentioned here was no doubt intended 
to mean a thick stick. 

It may easily be believed that a considerable following of 
men and boys took part in this performance. They then went 
the round of the village, calling at the principal houses, and 
going through the same performance ; and amongst the houses 
called upon, was that of the man who had been beating his 
wife, and for whom the Stang Riding was performed. Should 
the man be at home, the same ceremony was gone through ; 
after which he was told to come out, and if he wanted to fight, 
let him come out and fight somebody who was his match, any- 
one of the men being ready for him. If he refused to come 
out, theyAvould force open the door and drag him out, and give 
him such a thrashing he would not forget. 

Generally money was given to the Stang riders at the 
different houses, which as might be supposed was spent in 
** drink," at the close of the performance, which often ended in - 
a riot. 

It may be asked : Was this. performance legal ? I believe 
not. But it was popularly believed that it was legal ; but to 
be so, the performances must take place in three parishes, all 

The last time I have seen or heard anything about Riding 
the Stang, would be about the year 1877, when there were 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. — 1 839 TO 1 844. 335 

particulars in a local Newspaper of a riot in a village not far 
from my own neighbourhood, which riot it is said, originated in 
a Stang-riding affair. 

Now, the practice seems to have died out. A wife now, 
can obtain some sort of redress for ill-usage in the law-courts, 
but which in some instances is a mockery of the thing called 
Justice ; more particularly is this the case in Scotland, the 
country famous for its piety and its whisky, where I have 
observed a man can enjoy the luxury of wife-beating for a fine 
of 10 shillings, which of necessity is a fine on the wife as well. 
But ruffianly husbands, subjected to penalty, have this consola- 
tion ; if they are not allowed in their own gentle way to break 
their wife's head, there is no law in this Christian country to 
prevent him breaking her heart. 

Then she may hang or drown herself; or as reported in 
the weekly Newspapers of April i6th, 1892, in order to escape 
ill-usage, throw herself out of a window 73 feet from the ground, 
and on a Sunday morning of all days, leaving four children 
behind her to mourn her loss. Of course the man was not 
legally responsible for his wife's death ; but as the coroner told 
him at the inquest, he was morally responsible — morally re- 
sponsible, that is all. And scarcely a week passes without a 
like occurrence being reported in the newspapers. Both 
robbery and murder of a certain kind are permitted by our 
Legislature. For example of the former, see Appendix — D. 
Had these rough-and-ready dispensers of justice — these 
Riders of the Stang, taken this man's case in hand, he might 
possibly have followed his wife ; then, they would run the 
risk of being hanged for murder — hanged for murdering a 

D Stealing the Goose from the *' Common " and the 

** Common " from the Goose. Page 39 

The difference between stealing the goose from the 
** common," and stealing the ** common " from the goose, was 


well understood in those early days, and was a popular ex- 
pression, to emphasize that difference, but forgotten now, there 
being no ** commons " left to steal. 

Could the history of the enclosure of commons be written, 
showing how the small common-right claimants fared, it would 
form a curious illustration of one-sided legislation. When* 
landlords and the privileged orders were supreme in Parlia- 
ment, the enclosure of commons went on at a rapid rate. 
Since the beginning of last century, to about 1820 — 4000 Bills 
for the enclosure of commons in as many parishes had been 
passed by Parliament, giving power to Lords of Manors to 
appropriate commons ; the popular view of the thing, being 
that it was a robbery, which, at that time, found expression in 
the following words : 

Why prosecute the man or woman 

Who steals the goose JErom oS the oommon, 

But leaves the greater felon loose, 

Who steals the common from the goose ? 

But if it was a robbery it had Parliamentary sanction ; it was 
robbery by Law. 

But there was another form of robbery practised by some 
of the large land-holders, without any Parliamentary sanction, 
which, according to law, was of a far more heinous description 
than ordinary theft. Church robbery, or taking things out of 
a church or holy place, was Sacrilege, and punished with 
peculiar severity, and that punishment was hanging without 
benefit of clergy. 

But if a Lord of a Manor, was to steal part of a church- 
yard, there was no penalty attached to that ; and the writer of 
this can point to an instance where that was done, and nothing, 
so far as is known, said about it. In a certain parish in Blank- 
shire, a large portion of the church-yard was forcibly taken 
possession of by the Lord of the Manor, who was a Peer of the 
Realm, and a member of whose family was an archbishop, and 
this stolen church -yard is the private property of the Manor to 
this day. This noble Lord's mansion adjoined the church. 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. 1 839 TO 1 844. 337 

as many mansions in England do. But the northern half of 
the church-yard interfered with the road leading to the man- 
sion, and therefore was taken possession of, without let or 
hindrance. No tenant in those days dare interfere, and no 
one else troubled about it. 

Sam Terry, who was transported for stealing geese, was 
an old man when he died, and this robbery would take 
place when his father was living, and as near as can be 
estimated, about the time when the archbishop would be in 
the occupation of his See, and who often resided at this man- 
sion, it being the place where he was born, and a favourite 
residence of his. 

About 5 miles distant, is another church, the mansion of 
the Lord of the Manor, as is usual, adjoining. A portion of 
this church-yard has been appropriated and added to the 

These are instances coming within the observation of the 
writer, in the district where he was born and passed his 
youth ; and he cannot be blamed for supposing that many 
more like examples of Sacrilegious robbery might be found, 
which our then legislators allowed to go unpunished. 

E ••• Transportation to Botany Bay. ... Page 53 

Dr. Lang, in his History of New South Wales, says : 
that in 1793, Messrs. Muir, Palmer, Skirving, Margarot, and 
Gerald, who had all been tried and found guilty of ** stimulating 
the people of Great Britain to effect a reform of Parliament^'' were 
sentenced to transportation to Botany Bay, one for seven 
years, and the others to fourteen years, ** but everything, '* says 
the Doctor, " that enlightened delicacy could suggest, was done 
by Governor Hunter, to render their situation as little painful 
as possible.*' Vol. i. Page 73. 


A century has passed away since 1793, but many years 
after that date, the same offences would have met with a like 

JT The Dances of the Natives, or the Corroboree. Page 66 

All theologians of the sour and ascetic type have made it 
a part of their teaching to condemn dancing, and for a time 
have succeeded, but never for long. For dancing,^ as a 
recreative amusement, seems to be natural with every people, 
and every nation, savage or civilized. 

The early missionaries found the New Zealanders addicted 
to it, and as far as lay in their power, suppressed it. 

It is singular what an eye the natives of Australia have 
for dramatic effect in their dances. They might be trying, in 
a simple, primitive way, to copy the theatre of civilized nations. 

The Corroboree is always danced at night, and the one I 
saw, took place on a strip of green sward on the bank of the 
river, which might be said to form the stage of their theatre, 
and the near back-ground of trees and bushes made very 
appropriate scenery, and it was in the recesses of this forest 
back-ground, that the natives painted their bodies, and from 
which they advanced on to the stage singly, or in twos or 
threes, to take part in the dance, the whole body coming 
forward at the finish. They kept excellent time in their 
movements, and their music was the singing of the women, 
who beat time with sticks on stretched out dry skins. 

In front of the stage a number of small fires were lighted, 
and kept alight, reminding one of the front stage lights of a 
theatre, and facing the fires as in the pit of a theatre, we 
white-fellows congregated, either sitting or standing. How I 

long the performance lasted I cannot say ; an hour or more. 
How to describe it is beyond my powers. 


FIFTY YEARS AGO — 1 839 TO 1 844. 339 

The descriptive particulars of a corroboree, the nearest 
approach to the one I saw, are given with truthful fidelity 
in Vol. 2, Page 4, of Major Mitchell's "Three Expeditions into 
the Interior," which are as follows : 

** In the evening, the Blacks, having assembled in some 
numbers, entertained us with a " corrobory," their universal 
and highly original dance. Like all the rest of the habits and 
customs of this singular race of wild men, the ** corrobory ** 
is peculiar, and seems essential to their character. This 
amusement always takes place at night, and by the light of 
blazing boughs. They dance to beaten time, accompanied by 
a song. The dancers paint themselves white, in such remark- 
ably varied ways, that no two individuals are at all alike.'* 

" The surrounding darkness seems necessary to the effect 
of the whole, all these dances being more or less dramatic ; 
the painted figures coming forward in mystic order from the 
obscurity of the back-ground, while the singers and beaters of 
time are invisible, have a highly theatrical effect. Each dance 
seems most tastefully progressive, the movement being at first 
slow, and introduced by two persons, displaying the most 
graceful motions both of arms and legs, while others, one by 
one, drop in, until each, imperceptibly, warms into the truly 
savage attitude of the "corrobory" jumps; the legs striding 
to the utmost, the head turned over one shoulder, the eyes 
glaring, and fixed with savage energy in one direction, the 
arms raised and inclined towards the head, the hands usually 
grasping waddies, bommerangs, or other warlike weapons." 

" The jump now keeps time with each beat, and at each 
leap the dancer takes six inches to one side, all being in a 
connected line, led by the first dancer. The line is doubled 
or tripled according to space and numbers, and this gives great 
effect, for, when the front line jumps to the left, the second 
jumps to the right, the third to the left again, and so on, until 
the action acquires due intensity, when all simultaneously and 
suddenly stop." 


" The excitement which this dance produces in the savage 
is very remarkable. However listless the individual, lying half 
asleep perhaps, as they usually are when not intent on game ; 
set him to this dance and he is fired with sudden energy, 
every nerve is strung to such a degree, that he is no longer to 
be recognized as the same individual, until he ceases to dance, 
and comes to you again." 

** There can be little doubt but that the corrobory is the 
medium through which the delights of poetry and the drama are 
enjoyed, in a limited degree, even by these primitive savages 
of New Holland." 

There is also a pictoral representation of the " corroboree " 
at the commencement of the volume, a copy of which is given 
in this book. It is a very good illustration of the dance, and 
will convey to the mind of the reader, a true conception of its 
peculiar character. 

Mr. Macdonald, in "Gum Boughs and Wattle Bloom," also 
gives a very interesting description of the ** corroboree," as 
practised by the natives of the Southern Province, but too long 
for insertion here. 

There is no arbitrary rule for spelling the word "corroboree," 
some spell it one way and some another. 

Gr ••• ••• The Yackond^ndah. ... Page 78 

I and my companions were not alone in our liking for the 
Yackond^ndah. William Howitt visited it in January, 1853, 
and encamped there some weeks, and from his description, in 
about the same position as we occupied, or a little higher up. 
(See " Two years in Victoria," by William Howitt.) 

" And here," he says : " we had quietness and greenness, 
and the most deliciously cool water, sweet and clear ; " although 
he foresees this quietness and greenness cannot last long. 
Neither did it, for his visit had to do with gold-prospecting, and 

FIFTY YEARS AGO — 1839 TO 1844. 34I 

this valley has proved to be one of the richest gold fields in 
the colony. Little did we imagine that, when we were en- 
camped there. But so rich was the gold deposit, that William 
Howitt says : ** On pulling up a shrub on the banks of the creek, 
spangles of gold were to be seen attached to the soil of the 

Soon after his arrival, a rush was made for the Yackon- 
d^ndah, and then the whole scene was changed, more especially 
on the lower part of the stream, some twenty miles below 
where he was encamped ; and this is how he describes the 
change in this and other valleys adjoining. ** These valleys, 
once so solitary and green, are now studded with tents. The 
trees are felled by thousands, and the shrubs that bordered 
the creek are being cut down. There are carts and bullock 
drays going to and fro with stores, and the forest echoes to the 
blasphemy of the bullock driver, and as to the aspect of the 
gold digging, no scene could be more revolting to the eye, no 
scene less characterized by an air of wealth than a gold digging. 
The tents have a wretched rag-fair appearance, and they stand 
on a field composed of holes, and clay, and gravel heaps. 
Every tree is felled ; every feature of nature is annihilated ; *' 
and many more repulsive details he gives, not necessary to 
enter here. Such was the condition of the lower part of the 
once romantic solitudes of the Yackonddndah. 

But this devastation does not seem to have been the fate of 
the upper Yackond^ndah in his time, for he frequently refers 
to it, having visited it at different times. His first visit was in 
January, 1853. He again visits it in December, of the same 
year, describing it as ** our old favourite camping ground." 

He is still there, March, 1854, when he dilates on the 
pleasant Yackond^ndah woods, and its cool shades and clear 
water, leaving it for the last time in April of that year. 

But about nine years after William Howitt had left this 
pleasant valley, I had the inexpressible pleasure of receiving a 
letter from the town of Yackond^ndah, the capital of the 


County bearing the same name. In the early spring o.^ savage 
seeing in a newspaper, a list of new Post towns reog half 
established in Australia, and amongst the number being YacA^e ; 
dandah, I at once decided I would write to the Post-mast^y^ 
there, and ask him to do an old Australian traveller so gre^to 
a favour as to procure and send him some seeds of my favourite., 
acacia, growing on the banks of the creek, and which had 
attracted my notice so much when there, at the same time 
describing it. I felt certain, that unless the open-handed 
generous character of the Australians had much changed, my 
request would be complied with, if it was possible. 

The sequel will shew that I estimated rightly. I wrote in 
May, 1862, and on June 19th, 1863, 1 received from the aforesaid 
Post -master, a letter, containing, not only some seeds of my 
favourite plant, and other seeds, but also a small sprig of the 
plant itself, with leaves and a few flowers, dry and crushed, it 
is true, but to my sight a floral gem. 

I cannot find words to express how that simple sprig of 
acacia, with its crushed and dried flowers impressed me. What 
a crowd of pleasant and sunshiny remembrances it called into 
being ! How my thoughts wandered back over the past twenty- 
three years, to the time when 1 first saw its beautiful pea-green 
leaf, and golden yellow flowers, on the Yackond^ndah ! Perhaps 
my liking for the pretty acacia, was owing more to the associa- 
tions connected with it, than for its intrinsic merits. Perhaps 
so. But the kind-hearted Post-master says in his letter, that 
he had noticed and admired it himself, and had it then growing 
in his garden. My letter and request had fallen into sympathetic 
hands, into the hands of a person evidently a lover of nature, 
and all he asks for in return, is some seeds of English wild 
flowers, more especially the primrose, and which seeds were 
sent to him. 

But I cannot help repeating in his own words some of the 
contents of his letter. 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. — 1 839 TO 1 844. 343 

., . .. " I enclose a sample of the leaf and flower. I have been 
this V? 

, jr a great part of the colony of Victoria, yet have never met 
tiie c • 

ith it growing wild, except on this creek. I have seen it in 
TT the Botanical Gardens, Melbourne, and have one growing in 
my garden." 

** If you were again in this neighbourhood, you would see 
wonderful changes. There is quite a considerable town here 
now, and a large population engaged in mining, and I believe 
it is one of the best gold-diggings in the colony, long as it is 
since it was opened." 

But he does not advise new-comers to go there, the land 
being all occupied. He concludes his letter by saying : " If 
there is anything more I can do for you, I will be most 
happy to do it." Signing his name * * # * 

November 24th, 1862. 

The Yackond^ndah is now a County bearing that name, 
having, in 1887, 5,120 inhabitants, 900 houses, and rateable 
property to the amount of ^700,920 ; estimated area, 836 
square miles ; and by this time, has railway communication 
with Melbourne, and the county town is named Yackonddndah. 

JH[ ... The Murder, Trial, and the Ghost. ... Page 118 

The descriptive particulars of this murder, and how the 
perpetrator was discovered, are to be found in one of the 
editions of Dr. Lang's History of New South Wales, but not in 
the one to which I have gained access, and the particulars of the 
man's trial, were apparently known to every one in the colony, 
and implicitly believed in. I do not think a single person was 
to be found to dispute the facts, as all the details were given in 
the colonial newspapers at the time. 

As near as I can remember, the following are the incidents 
connected with the trial. 


Some few miles from Sydney, on one of the main roads, 
were a number of free allotments of land, of some hundred 
acres, or so, in extent, a free gift from the Government to the 
holders, in order to encourage small cultivators to supply the 
wants of the colony. These allotments were all fenced in with 
posts and rails, and had the usual wooden huts and conveniences 
of those days. 

It was noticed by some neighbours, that one of these 
occupiers was missing, and his next neighbour had taken posses- 
sion of his allotment. 

This man, on being questioned as to what had become of 
the original owner, gave as his answer, that he had gone to 
England and left him in charge, and if he did not return, he 
was to keep the place himself. 

This version of the man's absence did not quieten the 
suspicions of many, who knew both men. How long things 
went on under these conditions with the new occupier, I do not 
remember. But the circumstance caused many suspicious 
surmises, until one day, a man passing on the road who knew 
both men, saw the original occupier, the missing man, seated 
on the fence of his allotment, by the road side. He called to 
him, addressing him by his name, but the man, instead of 
answering, got off the fence, and walked on to a part of the 
allotment where was a large pond. 

The passing traveller followed him, but when the app^s^- 
tion, for it was an apparition he saw, got to the pond, the man 
suddenly lost sight of him. Then suspicions were aroused, and I 

a search was made, and the body of the missing man was 
found at the bottom of the pond. The new occupier was 
arrested ; tried in Sydney, confessed that he had murdered the 
man, and thrown his body into the pond, and the man who saw 
the apparition, appeared in evidence against him, and the 
murderer was hanged. 

The details of this murder as I have given them, may not 
be strictly accurate, but they are so, as well as I can remember. 


FIFTY YEARS AGO. 1 839 TO 1 844. 345 

I Arrested as a Bush-ranger. ... Page 178 

The name of the township where I had the honour to be 
hand-cuffed and imprisoned, from some unaccountable reason, 
is not mentioned in the old diary. How it came to be omitted 
I cannot say. But I felt sure, so familiar was the name once 
to me, that if I could hear it mentioned, or see it in print, I 
should at once recognize it. 

To satisfy my doubts, I closely inspected a recent map of 
the Colony, and on searching the Hunter's river district, there 
it was, " Muswell Brook." That was the name, I having no 
doubts whatever. 

JC The early Religious Establishments of the Colony. 

Page 219 

In the early days of the Colony of New South Wales, and 
during the time it was a penal settlement only, the Government 
at home, used its best endeavours to secure the exclusive pre- 
dominance of the Church of England, as a religious institution, 
and for this purpose, to quote Dr. Lang, ** A Church and School 
Corporation was established by Royal Charter, in the year 
1825, by which the whole care of religion in the Colony of New 
South Wales, was assigned to the Episcopal Clergy, to whom 
a seventh part of the whole continent, or a piece of land, as 
large as the island of Great Britain, was liberally allotted, as 
a suitable award for their trouble, and the clergy were ex- 
travagantly paid beside." 

" In 1824, the Rev. Thomas Hobbs Scott, was appointed 
by His Majesty's Government, Archdeacon of New South 
Wales, with a salary of ;^2,ooo a year." 

"In 1828, the cost of the Church establishment, besides 
the grant of land, was ;^22,ooo. In the meantime, every 
marriage, every burial, had to be paid for, with a regular and 
accustomed fee." 


Grants of land were also made by the Government to 
clergymen in their private capacity, but these grants were 
becoming so large, that it was resolved : " That no clergyman's 
grant, should, in the future, exceed 1280 acres," which is 
equivalent to two square miles. 

The Doctor complains bitterly of the neglect of the Govern- 
ment at home, to provide for the religious wants of the Scottish 
people settled in the Colony, and the following is how he 
accounts for this indifference, the details of which will probably 
be new to many readers. 

" By the Tory Government of Queen Ann, the Scottish 
people were robbed of their right, to elect their own pastors, 
and the appointment of the Scottish clergy, transferred, in 
great measure, to 'the Scottish aristocracy.'* 

** The consequence was, that the General Assembly of the 
Church of Scotland, consisting in great measure of ministers, 
who had been thrust upon the people by the system of Patronage, 
had seen hundreds of Scotsmen leave their native country for 
the colonies, without any inquiry whither they went, or what 
was likely to become of them, in the distant land of their 

And so difficult was it to obtain a single ;^ioo a year, for a 
regular connected and ordained Scotch clergyman, to dispense 
the ordinances of religion among his countrymen, in an exten- 
sive district of country in the Territory. '* I had," he says, 
" to leave my own congregation for a twelve month, to double 
Cape Horn, to circumnavigate the globe," in his endeavours to 
obtain redress. 

This he did, as a protest against the long continued in- 
difference of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, 
and to urge on the Government of that day, the stern necessity 
of doing something to provide for the spiritual wants of his 


FIFTY YEARS AGO. 1 839 TO 1 844. 347 

X* ... Scotsmen and the Rev. Sydney Smith. Page 220. 

Sydney Smith is reported as saying, " That it requires a 
surgical operation to get a joke into a Scotch understanding." 
And this saying of his, has been bandied about " from pillar to 
post,*' as a piece of immaculate wisdom, beyond the power of 
contradiction, and yet no one had a higher appreciation of 
Scotland, and the Scotch, than Sydney Smith. 

In his letters, he often refers to both, and in one of them 
he exclaims : ** When shall I see Scotland again ? Never shall 
I forget the happy days passed there. Amongst odious smells, 
barbarous sounds, bad suppers, excellent hearts, and most 
enlightened and cultivated understandings ! " 

See Lady Holland's Life of Sydney Smith. Page 13. 

And as to the difficulty of getting a joke into a Scotsman's 
head, he had the same, or a similar remark to make, of some 
of the English he met with, for he says : Page 177, " Nothing 
amuses me more, than to observe the utter want of perception 
of a joke in some minds," and proceeds to give examples. 
And yet the one remark is paraded in newspapers, or on plat- 
forms, whilst the other is never mentioned. How is this ? 

JVl ... ... Names of Places. ... Page 230 

When will Australians purge the maps of their country 
of the silly senseless names which disfigure them. Why should 
the names of mountains or rivers be that of the man who first 
discovered them, or be named after some place — man, or party- 
serving politician, so long as the native names are pleasanter 
to the ear, and of a certainty more appropriate. And many 
who have written on these colonies, have made the same 

Major Sir Thomas Mitchell, the late Surveyor General, 
condems this practice as much as any one, yet he did not always 
observe the rule he laid down ; but he had a valid reason. 


He could not as a rule — whilst exploring — gain that knowledge 
of the native names of rivers and localities he wished ; there- 
fore he was compelled to invent others. He gave a most 
appropriate name to the colony of Victoria, distinguishing it 
from the waste desert that he had previously explored. He 
named it Australia Felix. Why was that name changed to the 
name of a person ? Our ancestors did not name places in the 
three kingdoms so. They reversed that order of things, 
preserved the native names of places, and often appropriated 
them as their surnames, with the prefix of " de " as for instance, 
Gilbert de Moulton — Gilbert of Moulton. 

William Howitt, in his book (two years in Victoria), makes 
some sarcastic remarks on the absurd and senseless names 
given to places. Jackass Flat, Donkey Gully, Dead horse 
Gully, Tin-pot Gully, Murderer's Flat, and many more such 
names he gives of a like character, which, he says : ** are in- 
dications of the character of mind, of the people who give 
such names." And he is equally severe on the names of places, 
the work of the Government officials, and " is puzzled to know, 
on what principle the Government of Victoria proceed in 
giving names to places, that before had native names, full 
of meaning, and often euphonius. It seems as if on the arrival 
of each batch of new novels, they set about, and selected the 
names of the most Rosa Matilda character, for their townships ; 
a place with the good native name of Kinlocue, is recently turned 
into Campbell town, a very original conception." 

And he might have asked : How many Campbell towns 
do the Government want ? For to my knowledge, that makes 
three of that name. 

Again, he says : "It is certainly rather travelling out of 
our way, to speculate whether Wangar^tta, and Beniilla, sound 
better, and more unique, than Violet town, or Muddy Water 

Dr. Lang, the oldest historian of New South Wales, is 
equally severe on these absurd names. Writing of the rivers 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. — 1 839 TO 1 844. 349 

in the Hunter's river valley, he says : " All the three rivers had 
native names, much more beautiful and highly significant, as 
all native names are, from time immemorial. Every remarkable 
point of land, every hill and valley in the territory, has its 
native name, given, as far as can be ascertained, from particular 
instances, from some remarkable feature of the particular 
locality, insomuch that the natives can make appointments 
in their forests and valleys, with as much accuracy, in regard 
to place, as an inhabitant of London in the streets of the 

To give more of the remarks made by Dr. Lang, on this 
subject, is needless, yet they extend to some length. 

I remember in the conversation I had with Booralsha, he 
corroborated all that Dr. Lang had written. According to him^ 
every locality had its name, and the natives had names for the 
sun, moon, and stars, the clouds, and the sky, and for every 
living thing, animal or vegetable. I, myself, remember also 
being told by a native of the upper New England district, 
during a thunder storm, his name for the thunder, " jooroom- 
jooroom," and by no means an inappropiate name. 

There would be no difficulty in changing some of the silly 
names already given, for more appropriate ones. It is not so 
many years since the Government of Van Dieman's Land, 
changed that name to Tasmania ; and as I am writing about 
Tasmania, what does the English or Colonial reader think of 
Jerusalem, in Monmouth county, and another little mean town- 
ship in the same colony, described as consisting of two or three 
wooden buildings, a saw-mill or two, and an hotel, being named 
Jericho, and located in Somersetshire I Such names, beat even 
Jackass Flat, and Muddy Water Holes. 

Looking over a map of South Australia, I see Lake Young 
Husband. No one can with reason, object to any man, or 
woman either, making use of such a patronymic if they like it, 
but why call a big lake by such a name, surely the native name 
would have been more significant, and more euphonious. The 


native names, as a rule, sound pleasant to the ear, and in their 
language are expressively significant. Such are, War^nga, 
Wod6nga, Parram^tta, lUawii^rra, Mount Kor6ng, Witrragong, 
or Snowy Mountains ; Molonglo Plains, Maner6o Plains, names 
much more appropriate than Liverpool Plains, named after 
a dead-and-gone English Cabinet Minister. 

I remember on our long journey (myself and my friend 
Castro), of 140 miles, between the Murrumbidgee and the Murray, 
and on which route, not a station or an inhabitant was to be 
seen ; about mid-way, some three or four miles to the right, 
was a solitary station, which went by the name of Smith's of 
Kiamba, for Kiamba was the native name of the locality, and 
Mr. Smith had the good sense to preserve that name, instead 
of calling it Smith- ville, or New London. 

Sometimes the native names are rather too long, and some- 
times repeat themselves, but they might be shortened, and no 
harm done. Thus 061awambil6a, the name of a hill in the far 
interior, might be shortened to Wambil6a, and so might be 
treated the names which repeat themselves. The Yarta-Yarra 
river, which flows through Melbourne, and which in the native 
language, signifies ** ever-flowing,*' is always called the Yarra. 

And this river name, Yarra- Yarra, or " ever-flowing," unlike 
the idiotic names often given by the white settler or Govern- 
ment officials, conveys a meaning most significant, considering 
the many rivers there are in Australia, which are not ever- 
flowing, but, on the contrary, are often for many months dry 
channels, without a drop of water. 

^ ... New Zealand Missionaries. ... Page 247 

Not having Dr. Lang's pamphlet, commenting on the 
claims of the missionaries in New Zealand, I wished my state- 
ment to be corroborated, if possible, by independent testimony. 

FIFTY YEARS AGO (1839 1844). 35I 

and to do that, I searched for books on New Zealand, written 
at, or about that period of time, and found all that I required 
to know in — 

** Travels in New Zealand ; " 

With contributions to the Geography, Geology, 

Botany and Natural History of that country, 

by Ernest DiefFenbach, M.D., 

Late Naturalist to the New Zealand Company ; 

Containing an account of several journeys 

into various parts of New Zealand, 

during the years 

1839, 1840, and 1 841. 

Published in 1843. 

Although the author of these volumes was a naturalist, 
and his principal object, the study of the natural history of 
New Zealand, yet he has much to say incidentally about the 
missionaries, and on the whole, speaks well of them, but not 

He resided in the islands during the time of the transfer 
by the native chiefs, of their country to the British Govern- 
ment, and it also appears that the Commissioners' Court, for 
investigating land claims, made by white men, had already 
commenced operations. The words italicized, are so by me, 
and not by Dr. DiefFenbach. 

Beginning with Vol. i, at Page 221, he says : ** A great 
portion of the land in this valley (Kaitaia) has been purchased 
by a few private individuals, but the intentions of the Govern- 
ment, are not to allow more than 2500 acres to any one 
individual." And the persons who claimed these lands he 
mentions occasionally, as he proceeds in his narrative. 


At page 280 he writes : " Still farther to the eastward of 
Auckland, another inlet commonly called the Tamaki, leads 
towards Manukao." 

** The land on both sides of the Tamaki is excellent ; that 
on the right shore is claimed by the Church missionary catechist, 
Fairburn, whose possessions extend from this point, as far as 
to the Wairoa river, being an extent of about ninety square 

Ninety square miles, the area claimed at one missionary 
station ! What in the name of heaven does a missionary, or a 
hundred missionaries, want with ninety square miles of land ? 

At page 300, he has something more favourable to say of 
the missionaries. He mentions a station of the Church mission- 
ary society (Marainui), and of the improved condition of the 
natives, and says : " Such progress is certainly owing to the 
efforts of the missionaries.'* 

At page 326, whilst on his travels, and resting on a Sunday, 
he could get no food from the natives, the missionaries having 
told them, that it was the greatest sin to kill a pig, or to cook 
on a Sunday. 

At page 330, he finds himself in a like predicament, the 
natives refusing him and his party food, because it was Sunday, 
but eventually, one his followers " Titipa," although not yet a 
christian, was well read in his bible, and proved to them that 
there was no commandment to refuse a hungry wanderer food 
on a Sunday. 

At page 369, is a humourous description of the names 
given by the natives to the different classes of Europeans in 
the islands. 

At page 372, the natives quarrel with him for taking shelter 
with his party in their church, and although they quitted the 
building immediately, all their efforts to obtain provisions, and 
a guide to shew them the road, were in vain. 

FIFTY YEARS AGO — 1 839 TO 1 844. 353 

His comments on the conduct of these natives, are as follows : 
" In spite of all possible caution and forbearance on my part, I 
have several times met with a bad reception, and always found 
the cause something connected with missionary (I will not say) 
christian observances. The misunderstanding generally arose 
from some exaggerated idea of what was required of them by 
the missionaries, a fault very usual among new and zealous 

Eventually two native travellers, belonging to another 
tribe, and returning to their homes, who happened to be present, 
gave them the information they wanted, at the same time, ex- 
pressing their indignation at the inhospitable treatment they 
were receiving from their country-men. 

In vol. 2nd, at page 19, he says : ** The missionaries dis- 
couraged the practice by the natives of their numerous dances, 
songs, and games, teaching them to regard them as vices." 

At page 75, he writes : " The Church missionaries in the 
Bay of Islands, possess large properties in these districts, 
which is perhaps the reason they have not long ago gone into the 
interior, where they would have been far more usefully employed, 
than in the Bay of Islands, which is principally a shipping place. 
Some of the stations occupied by them, are nearly deserted by the 
natives, and they have therefore no congregations, unless they 
choose, like St. Anthony, to preach to the fishes." 

At page 79, he makes mention ** Of a tribe numbering 
10,000, on the lake of Tarawera, at which place is a mission 
station, but less progress has been made there, than at any 
other station in the country." But this want of progress, 
results he says " from the character of the tribe, not from any 
want of zeal or ability on the part of the excellent man who resides 
there r 

At page III, he again refers to the refusal of the natives, 
who had become christians, " to furnish food, or to perform any 
kind of work, for a traveller who may happen to arrive on a 
Sunday, which must sometimes take place in a country where 



one entirely depends on the natives." Which proceeding on the 
part of the natives, he says, ** is by the ill-judged directions of 
the missionaries." 

Continuing, he says ; ** Highly as I appreciate the merits 
of the missionaries, I must say, that they have omitted to teach 
their converts some most important social, and therefore moral 
duties, which they will only acquire by a more intimate intercourse 
with civilized Europeans.'' 

Commenting on the work undertaken by the Land Com- 
missioners, he says, page 149, "When the question of providing 
for the children of the missionaries, was brought before the 
committee of the Church Missionary Society, in London, 200 
acres for each child was thought to be a liberal allowance." 

He himself thinks, ** that ten acres of arable landy must be 
regarded as sufficient, for all the reasonable wants of an in- 

Page 162 to 170, are devoted entirely to comments on the 
work of the missionaries, their failures, and their successes. 

In page 162, he says : ** There are, at the present moment, 
missionaries of three different sects in New Zealand ; of the 
Church of England, of the Wesleyans, and of the Roman 
Catholics. The first, which is the oldest, and was established 
by a very pious and excellent man, the Rev. Samuel Marsden, 
in 1814." 

He says, again, *• There are, at the present moment, forty- 
four missionaries employed in New Zealand, which, taking the 
population at 114,890 souls, gives one missionary for little more 
than 2,500 natives." 

** Their duties, however, are by no means equally dis- 
tributed, as the places most remote from the Bay of Islands, 
have but lately been occupied by. them, and many densely 
populated districts have no missionaries at all. The expense 
of the Church Society, amounts to nearly ;^i 7,000 annually." 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. — 1 839 TO 1 844. 355 

;^i 7,000 seems a large sum of money for a missionary 
society to expend annually, in those early days, on two not 
very large islands in the Pacific Ocean, where the islands 
number thousands, and where, at the same time, two other 
religious sects were at work. 

It seems as if the Parent Society, in London, had more 
money than they knew what to do with, and sorely needed 
some one to teach them how to economize their funds, and 
use them to the best advantage. That so large an annual 
outlay on New Zealand missionaries was not at all necessary, 
may be learned from what follows. 

In page 165, he says: ** Many of these older missionaries 
have become landed proprietors ; and many by other pursuits, 
such as Banking, or trading with the produce of their gardens, 
or live stock, have become wealthy men, &c.*' 

And on this page, he comments severely on the worldly- 
mindedness of some of these missionaries, and says : ** Eleven 
missionaries, the only ones who had given in their claims to 
the Land Commissioners, when I left New Zealand, demanded 
96,219 acres! and four others had not yet submitted their 
claims, which / doubt not will be equally large,'' 

" Nobody could have grudged them, or their children, the 
possession of as much land as they could possibly have required 
for their own use ; but the belief prevalent in Europe, that the 
missionaries cultivate the chief part of the land which they 
possess is very erroneous ; / do not believe that more than sixty 
acres are in cultivation y by missionaries or their sons, in the whole of 
New Zealand,'^ 

It may be as well to inquire here ; To what rehgious sect 
did these missionaries belong, who made such extravagant 
land claims ? As will be seen further on, it was not the Wesleyans, 
nor the Roman Catholics. There being in New Zealand, 
missionaries of three sects only, these land claims must have 
been made by missionaries of the Church of England. The 
writer does not say so, but leaves it to be inferred. 


The cannibalism of the New Zealanders, was, at this time, 
well known in England, and was not forgotten in the speeches 
from missionary platforms. The Rev. Sydney Smith, it is said, 
when interviewing a missionary, about to proceed to New 
Zealand, jocularly reminded him, that wlien visiting a chief, 
he might probably be invited to partake of a slice of cold 
missionary off the sideboard. But if we are to believe Dr. 
Dieffenbach, these missionaries knew well what they were 
about, and were well able to take good care of themselves. 
The cannibalism of the natives did not frighten thm. 

The following is what he says about the Wesley an mission- 
aries, which is greatly to their credit, and shows that I have 
not been accurate in my statement respecting them. " The 
Wesleyan missionaries are not allowed to purchase land, but 
are restricted to an allotment, sufficient for the wants of their 
families. Their success amongst the natives, has been quite as 
great as that of their brethern of the Church of England." 

Of the Roman Catholic missionaries he says : " The 
humble and disinterested manner of living of the priests, and 
the superior education, which they have generally received, 
have procured them many friends, both amongst the Europeans 
and the natives, and also many converts amongst the latter." 

And in page 167, he says : ** Many of the missionaries 
are excellent and disinterested men." 

Page 168, is wholly devoted to a 

" Table of land claims by Missionaries in New Zealand," 
which claims amount to something less than 130,000 acres, 
sent in to the Commissioners at the time he is writing, not all 
the missionary claims. 

Such is the evidence on New Zealand missions as given 
by Dr. Dieffenbach, and condensed as much as possible. The 
result of his observations, made between the years 1839 and 
1 841, and the reader is left to form' his own conclusions. 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. 1 839 TO 1 844. 357 

More than two-thirds of Vol. 2nd, is devoted to the 
natural history of New Zealand, and a grammar and dictionary 
of the native language. 

There is also a chapter on, 

** How to legislate for the natives.*' 

^y ... Civilized and Savage Sports contrasted. Page 255 

The following remarks, will, there is little doubt, seem to 
many readers, very much out of place in a work of this kind, 
and with some show of reason, they will be characterised as 
so much *• padding." What, it will be asked, have English 
sports to do with adventures in Australia ? 

More than at first sight appears. The merits, and de- 
merits, of the black natives of Australia are at present under 
discussion ; a race said to occupy the lowest place in the scale 
of humanity ; whilst the white men, who have taken posses- 
sion of Australia, in their own estimation, occupy the Jirst place 
among civilized nations ; but it may be, we think too much of 

It has been said, that among other merits of the black 
race, their sports are purer than ours. Is that a true state- 
ment ? Let us compare them. Let us compare the savagery 
of civilization, with the so-called savagery of the black natives 
of Australia, and note where they differ. 

The Australian natives have many kinds of sport, which 
are nowhere better described than in ** Gum Boughs and 
Wattle Bloom," and the hunting of wild animals may be 
called one of them, but there is this wide difference between 
the hunting of wild animals by the Australian native and 
English sportsmen ; the primary object of the former is to 
procure food ; the latter, for what ? The reason why, is well 
known, and need not be stated. 


There are some kinds of sport, which are not only a relaxa- 
tion, but a necessity, such as cricketing, boating, yachting, 
dancing, horse-racing, if without the gambling that so frequently 
accompanies it ; and we can even include amongst the un- 
objectionable forms of sport ; ranging the fields and woods, and 
the wild moors, in pursuit of game in its wild state, and also 
fishing. These sports are exhilarating and health -giving ; an 
antidote to the carking cares and anxieties, which more and 
more are the accompaniments of an advanced civilization, and 
are all conducive to the formation of a sound mind in a sound 

But the ** sports,'* of the English sporting fraternity, are not 

what they used to be, fifty or sixty years ago ; as far as the 

pursuit of wild animals goes, they have degenerated into a brutal 

butchery. We read of 800 head of game, actually falling 

victims to sportsmen in a single day, and on one game-preserve. 

That is one form of so-called *' sport," practised at the end of 

the nineteenth century, by a nation professing Christianity. 

Whilst on the subject of ** sport," let us overhaul some 

other forms of it. 

There is fox-hunting. To say, or to write anything in 
disparagement of fox-hunting, would, with a certain class, be 
little short of high treason. We know a **meet" makes a 
gay show, especially on the lawn in front of a gentleman's 
mansion. We know the sport is fashionable, and tests the 
skill of even a good rider ; but because it is the custom and 
fashion to call fox-hunting a " noble sport," that does not make 
it so. In what particular phase of the sport is the "nobility" 
to be found ? Hard and skilful riding may have in it a spice of 
" nobility," daring, and endurance ; but we cannot see what 
there is meriting the epithet *' noble,'* in hunting a half wild 
animal, kept for that special purpose only, and perfectly 
helpless, against his numerous and merciless foes ; and whose 
shelter places are stopped up, and every possible chance of 
escape cut off. Some people may see ** nobility " in this sport, 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. 1 839 TO 1 844. 359 

but it would surprise them if they knew what an amount of 
opinion there is, which can see in that ** sport " not a shadow 
of a shade of nobility. And that adverse opinion is not confined 
to the religious section of the community, but it is found 
amongst all classes, even among those who have no special 

leaning to sectarian religion of any kind. 


To hunt bears and wolves in the wilds of the Western 
states of America ; or lions, or tigeife in India ; or a similar 
class of wild animals in the interior of Africa ; or enter into 
conflict with a boa-constrictor, may, with propriety, be called 
a " noble " sport. That kind of sport requires a courage and 
endurance in the sportsman, which cannot but be admired, and 
he is a sportsman who is doing a public service, and pioneering 
the way to a higher and a happier state of things. 

So much for the show and display attached to a ** meet " 
of fox-hunters and fox-hounds. 

But what about the fox ? What would he have to say to it 
all, if he could reason and speak. We read of old enthusiastic 
fox-hunters who say, the fox likes it. We read in a book on 
sporting, by the " Druid," of a whipper-in, who, when the fox 
during a hunt, was lost, and could not be found, saying : whilst 
searching a thick coppice, that he could smell him, "if it was 
not for them dam'nd — stinking violets." Such is a specimen of 
the sentiments generated in the mind of one whose whole life 
has been spent in following the hounds. 

And then the fox, after two or three hours run, struggling 
for ver.y life, seeking in vain for shelter places he knows so well, 
but now cannot find ; exhausted, his tongue hanging out of his 
mouth, his usually sleek furry coat, nearly black with dirt and 
sweat — succumbs. 

And this description we are copying from a " sporting 
article " in a newspaper. He is lost to view, out of sight, 
crushed between the strong jaws of perhaps a dozen or more 
hounds. What can be more horrible than the last twenty 
minutes of the life of a hunted fox ? What ** nobility " is 


there in a sport of that kind ? Nobihty of sport is when the 
combatants are fairly matched. That merit cannot with 
propriety be said to attach to fox-hunting. 

Sorry should we be, for the reader to infer from these 
remarks, that fox-hunters are heartless, bad men. We know 
fox-hunters who are "good fellows," possessing kindly, generous, 
and charitable dispositions ; who, so far as the fox is concerned, 
are thoughtless, never think of him ; whose only thoughts are 
consentrated in skilful riding, and the mettle and endurance of 
a noble horse. 

But there are, in this Christian country, forms of sport far 
more reprehensible than fox-hunting, and which the genuine 
sportsman looks upon with disgust and aversion. 

What about that ** noble " sport, the hunting of a tame 
deer, by a pack of hounds, whose maintenance is provided for 
out of the National Exchequer ? Which all the time allows to 
languish for want of funds, the National Life-boat Institution, 
that " noble " Institution for the preservation of life from ship- 
wreck ; and is supremely indifferent to the fate of its Balaclava 
and other heroes, some of whom we read of d3ring of starvation, 
or in the Union Workhouse. And this unfortunate deer, 
hunted nearly to the death, not quite, and when exhausted, 
frightened, and bleeding from flesh wounds made by savage 
dogs, is carefully and mercifully preserved for another day's 

Or what about pigeon shooting, at Hurlingham, and other 
resorts of fhe kind, with its betting and gambling, and the sly. 
gouging out of the eye of a pigeon, just previous to its flight, in 
order to win or spoil a bet ? 

Or what about a later development of " sport," coursing 
hares, not in the fields, as used to be the custom, but in en- 
closures, from which the hare cannot escape, but is hunted to 
certain death, for no purpose but to make an English holiday, 
for a mob of howling, yelling gamblers and rufiians ? 


FIFTY YEARS AGO — 1 839 TO 1 844. 36 1 

These later developments of "sport," although not in 
existence fifty years ago, have yet been many years in operation. 

In a July number of the Graphic^ 1882, is both a 
pictorial and a written description of the Waterloo coursing 
meeting, which stands at the head of this kind of sport, and in 
both particulars is graphically described. To judge from the 
illustrations, we might suppose there would be an assemblage 
of 50,000 persons or more, almost all of the fwhler sex too, 
gathered together to witness this "noble *' sport ; and one of the 
book-making fraternity signalizes his position by a human skull 
elevated on the top of a. pole, Emblematical of death and the 
grave. Other illustrations shew the ** nobility *' of the sport, 
in long, lanky, strong -jawed dogs, in pursuit of a harmless 
frightened hare ; and the following are some of the remarks 
made by the Graphic reporter. 

"It is much to be regretted that the recent Waterloo 
anniversary, was marked by a great increase of the " rough '* 
element present, welshers, and pickpockets, with hordes of 
prize-fighters and professional bullies, " covering *' their opera- 
tions, having things pretty well their own way.'* 

" So much for this noble manly, soul-elevating British sport. 
It encourages neither the cruel nor the sordid propensities to 
which, human nature is prone. Oh no ! How different to the 
brutalities of a Spanish bull-fight, or the torture inflicted by 
vivisectors in their professed enthusiasm for the prevention of 
disease ! " 

" The hare thoroughly enjoys the fun, and the wholesome 
and innocent nature of the pastime is proved by the attractive 
influence, which it exercises over the " welshers," a class of men 
of far too severe a morality to congregate where anything 
reprehensible is going on." So far the Graphic, 

Then there is the " noble sport " of rabbit coursing, also 
in an enclosed place, from which there is no escape, and thus 
described by a member of the House of Commons, in the 


session of 1890, who appealed to the Secretary of State, for 
the Home Department, whether his attention had been called 
to the nice ** little game " as played at Saltford. 

" Each round being a match between two dogs ; a couple 
of terriers were let loose, and set on to a rabbit, which they 
seized. One dog was tearing the live rabbit on the side of the 
head and body, while the second dog fixed his teeth in the flesh 
on the other side, both dogs pulling at the rabbit in opposite 
directions, till the unfortunate animal was torn, mangled, and 
worried to death, &c., &c." 

The Hon. Member concluding his remarks by saying, " that 
at this particular sporting meeting, about a hundred rabbits 
were maimed, and subsequently worried to death in this 


The reply of the Home Secretary was : " That legislation 
with respect to cruelty to wild animals, was surrounded with 
such difficulty, that he did not see what could be done." Which 
meant that the majority of that Christian legislature, of which 
he was a member, had, he knew, no wish or intention to provide 
a remedy ; no wish to do anything detrimental to " sport." 

There are other kinds of ** sport" in this Christian country, 
equally brutal and brutalizing, but we think we have written 

We have in this country what is called a Christian legis- 
lature, which professes to superintend the morals, religion, and 
national welfare of the people ; and every member of this legis- 
lature, before he can take his seat, has, or had, to declare his 
belief in a God, and that God, as they profess to believe, is a 
God of mercy, whose mercy is over all His Works, whose 
mercy endureth for ever ; and so strongly does this legislature 
feel on this particular, that only a few years ago, it expelled^ 
and. with ferocious violence, a duly elected member, on account 
of his alleged unbelief in God. 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. 1 839 TO 1 844. 363 

As might be expected, this legislature, believing in a God 
of mercy, has passed Acts for the Prevention of cruelty to 
animals, but as if to shew its insincerity, and its care for the 
interests of " sport," it has enacted that these Acts shall apply 
only to " domestic animals," and in a like spirit has it acted in 
the late dog-muzzling order, it having made the remarkable 
discovery that fox-hounds do not require a muzzle. 

If this life is, as we are told, only a preparation for another 
and a better, surely sport of the kind mentioned, cannot be 
conducive to that end ; yet the people who engage in these 
sports, are, as a rule, professing Christians, and strange as it may 
seem, all of them who profess any religion at all, belong to the 
State Church, some of them occupying the honourable position 
of churchwarden, attending church meetings, and will carry 
round the plate when a collection is made, for the conversion 
of black heathens to Christianity. Whoever heard of a 
dissenter following fox-hounds ; a Wesleyan, or a Congregation- 
alist, or a Baptist ? Not that the merciful treatment of animals 
forms any part of their religious teaching ; for a person might, dur- 
ing a long life, go every Sunday to their chapels, or to their Sun- 
day schools ; listen to ten thousand of their sermons, yet never 
hear one word, inculcating as a religious duty, or as a duty of 
any kind, the humane treatment of animals. Individuals may, 
and do, but the chapels never. The Roman Catholics and the 
Church of England, show the same indifference, but amongst 
the latter body, at the present time, are some noble exceptions. 
This charge made against the religious sects, is equally as 
apphcable to the Agnostics, who claim to be more rational ; 
for they, as a body, are — at one — with the sects in their callous 
indifference to animal torture. And some of the most prominent 
among them, boldly act the part of champion to those vivi- 
secting fiends — who have made of this world a HelL 

When the writer of this was a boy, it was no uncommon 
thing to see some of the clergy following the hounds, tjiat 
practice is seldom seen now. But he can relate an anecdote 


having reference to the fox-hunting parsons of years gone by, 
which may amuse, if it does nothing else. 

In the village where he was born, lived a quaker farmer, 
farming on a large scale, and in prosperous circumstances, one 
of the old-fashioned sort, ond one of the strictest, in respect to 
the obligations imposed upon him, by the religious views of 
the sect to which he belonged ; and he was withal a truly 
good man, honest, pious, and conscientious. In a neighbouring 
village, lived one of the old-fashioned fox-hunting parsons, who 
was vicar of the parish, and was all his life a bachelor, and 
seldom did the hounds meet without his presence. One day, 
during the fox-hunting season, he was too late in attending the 
** meet," and had to find the hounds as well as he could, and 
in doing this, had to cross the quaker*s farm, where he came 
into personal contact with the quaker owner. Accosting Mr. 
D. — the quaker, he at once asked him if he could tell him which 
direction the hounds had gone. " After the fox said the quaker, 
who, if he is wise, will have gone to his study, where thou ought 
to her 

Now this reverend gentleman was well liked in his district, 
for in spite of his fox-hunting propensities, he bore the character 
of being a ** good fellow." He was courteous and genial in his 
manner, had no false pride about him, although of good family, 
and was kind and charitable to the poor ; and he it was, who 
told the story of his interview with the quaker farmer. This 
anecdote was much relished at the time, and both individuals 
were well known to the writer. 

Yes ! The author of " Gum Boughs and Wattle Bloom " 
was right, when he wrote, that the sports of the Australian 
natives were purer than ours. The lower animals have no 
cause for thankfulness that they live in a Christian country. 
When we take into consideration the brutality practised on 
animals in many and various ways, there is no country in the 
world where more cruel devilry is perpetrated on them, than 
in Christian Europe and America. 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. — 1 839 TO 1 844. 365 

y> ... ... Talcahuano ... ... Page 31a 

Never since our visit to Talcahuano do I ever remember 
seeing in any newspaper or other journalistic literature, any 
notice of it. My impression has been, that that quiet, sleepy 
old town would be, at the present time (1890), in much the 
same condition as when we visited it. But in looking' over 
Harper's Magazine , for October, 1890, I was much surprised 
and pleased to see in an article prefaced ** Agricultural Chili," 
a very pretty view of the Port and town of Talcahuano, and 
accompanied by the following remarks, in which, it will be seen 
that Talcahuano is destined to go ahead like other places. 

" Talcahuano, the Port of Concepcion, is a picturesque,, 
old-fashioned colonial place, with one-story houses, a few grain 
bodegas, quays, and a mole ; and overlooking the Bay is a 
hospitable and pleasant club, whose members require cham- 
pagne cocktail on the slightest provocation. The situation of 
the little town at the head of Concepcion Bay is very charm- 
ing, and the Bay itself is the finest harbour on the Pacific 
coast, with the exception only of San Francisco." 

" At Talcahuano, a break- water, quays, and a dock are 
now being constructed, by a French Company, at a cost of 
13,000,000 francs. The dock will measure 175 metres long, 
37 metres broad, and 25 metres deep." 

" The works were begun a year ago, and will require about 
three years more for completion. Talcahuano, will be the 
terminus and port of the Trans-andine railway from Buenos 
Ayres, via the Antuco Pass and Yumbel, and is likely to become 
a more important, as it is already a safer and better port than 

So it appears that Talcahuano is making, and has made,, 
greater progress than we ever dreamt of ; for in our time, there 
were none of the luxuries and conveniences described by this 
writer ; neither was there a pleasantly-situated club, dispensing 
champagne cock-tails. 

The view of the town makes it appear larger than when 
we saw it, in other respects it is a very good representation of 


it and its surroundings. In the November number of Harper's 
Magazine J is a continuation of the article on ** Agricultural 
Chili," with more illustrations, and one of them has in its fore- 
ground, a figure of a ChiHan wearing the ** poncho." 

^2 Mr. Froude and the Missionary at Samoa Page 317 

There is little doubt but that the statement made by these 
two poor and unknown sailors, about the sale of Bibles by 
missionaries to the natives of the South Sea Islands, will, by 
many subscribers to missions, be looked upon with suspicion, 
and treated as a sailor's yarn, on which no dependence ought to 
be placed. But the following extract from Mr. Froude 's 
** Oceana " may change that view. When on board a steamer, 
on his way from New Zealand to San Francisco, in 1885, more 
than 40 years after my conversation with these sailors; touch- 
ing at Samoa, one of the Navigator's Islands, he says : 

" A missionary came on board there who had passed his 
life among these islands. He was over seventy, but was still 
hale and vigorous. He was going home on business of the 
Society, but intended to return, and seemed as if he had still 
many years of work in him. His conversation was interesting, 
for he had new things to tell us, talking expansively about the 
natives, and seeming to like them well. His voice and manner 
had at first a slight professional twang, as if he thought some- 
thing of that kind was expected of him." * • 
♦ ♦♦•*** 

" He was a very honest man, however. With the help of 
his brother missionaries, he had translated the Bible into 
Samoan, and he told us, with great satisfaction that the natives 
had bought thirty thousand copies, at two dollars apiece. 
Actually thirty thousand, handsomely bound, * with gilt 
edges.' ;^i,5oo he had been able to remit annually from this 
source to the Parent Society, the money and the gilt edges 
together being a visible evidence of the blessings of Christianity 
to the heathen." 

FIFTY YEARS AGO. — 1 839 TO 1 844. 367 

Some who read this, and who have but an imperfect know- 
ledge of their country's literature, may ask : Who is Mr. 
Froude, and why should he be an authority on mission work ? 

James Anthony Froude, is a well-known author, a L.L.D., 
and was appointed in April, 1892, Regins Professor of Modern 
History, at the University of Oxford ; and at the time he 
writes, he was circumnavigating the globe, his main object 
being to study the colonies in the South seas, beginning with the 
Cape of Good Hope, then continuing the voyage to Australia 
and New Zealand, returning home by way of San Francisco, 
and the United States of America. 

Here is a missionary labouring among islands in the 
Pacific ocean, most of them so small that it needs a magnifier 
to find them on an ordinary map; remitting ;^i,5oo annually 
for Bibles, to some Society in England, a fact which unavoid- 
ably suggests a question or two. What was the name of this 
Society ? How many subscribers to^ Missions in this country 
are aware of this veritable gold-mine ? For from the evidence 
of these two sailors, and Mr. Froude's missionary friend, this 
sale of Bibles, must have been going on more than 40 years. 

yj ... The legal rights of Mothers and Children. Page 326 

Objection may be made to this statement, "that mothers 
had no rights," on the plea that the Married Women's Property 
Act, confers on married women whatever property they may 
be possessed of at the time of their marriage, or any property 
they may acquire after marriage. 

But this plea is of little worth, and does not invalidate the 
statement made ; for the Married Women's Property Act, 
securing to a married woman some portion of her natural rights, 
only received the sanction of the legislature in 1883, and that 
act granted those rights only to women married on and after 
that date. All women married previous to that date, and they 
must have numbered some millions, were left subject to the 
old law, and legally possess nothing ; even the ring on a married 


woman's finger, by that law is not her own property, but 
belongs to her husband. A clever Essayist, who wrote more 
than 40 years ago, aptly described a married woman's legal 
condition as follows : ''A married man is himself and his wife 
also, while she is not herself at all, or any body else. In law 
she has ceased to exist." 

But that does not complete the injustice a married woman 
is subject to. The law regulating intestate property, cuts 
down a married woman's rights to a minimum, and in the 
Divorce Court she has not the same rights as the husband, 
and she cannot vote, for or against the men who make these 
laws. For notwithstanding the reiterated assertions of Pseudo- 
christianity, which is so fond of claiming for itself, virtues 
which it denies to other religions, the fact is as stated ; mothers 
then, and for many years after, had no rights, not even over 
their own children ; for children then, had legally, only one 
parent — the father. That was the condition of things for those 
who claimed the title of mother, by virtue of what the Churches 
are pleased to call " Holy Matrimony,'' 

The only mother in this Christian country who has any 
maternal rights, is the mother of an illegitimate child ; she has 
those rights to the fullest extent ; the putative father has none. 
But these disabilities to which mothers were, or are, subject, 
are not all, more could be added. Such was, and to a certaia 
degree, still is, the law in this country ; and what few allevia- 
tions its legislature has made in these laws affecting married 
women, are too recent to merit much commendation. 

A Legislature, which, when assembled, is by its own order 
specially prayed for every Sunday, and in every church in the 
kingdom ; that by Divine assistance, " All things may be so 
ordered and settled by their endeavours, that peace and happi- 
ness, truth and justice^ religion and piety, may be established 
among us for all generations." 

A Legislature thus prayed for, and yet, notwithstanding, 
has for centuries given its sanction to injustice, robbery and 
wrong, has nothing much to brag about.